Third Bataclan gunman had been to Syria

  • 10/12/2015
People mourn in front of Bataclan café adjoining to the concert hall where 90 people were killed (Reuters)
People mourn in front of Bataclan café adjoining to the concert hall where 90 people were killed (Reuters)

By Marine Pennetier and Gilbert Reilhac

The third man who attacked the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on November 13 has been identified as a 23-year-old French national who went to Syria two years ago.

Investigators identified Foued Mohamed-Aggad as one of three Islamist gunmen who killed 90 people at the Bataclan after his mother told them that she had been informed of his death by text message from Syria, a lawyer for the dead man's family said.

Two of the three attackers killed themselves by exploding their suicide vests and another was shot dead by police.

Officials have yet to put names to all of eight dead gunmen and suicide bombers directly involved in last month's attacks, for which the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility.

They managed to identify Mohamed-Aggad after being alerted by his mother and then matching her DNA to his.

"The SMS message told her that her son had died, saying: "He died on November 13 with his brothers"," said Francoise Cotta, lawyer for the mother and her family, who said the woman got the text message 10 days ago.

"She was instantly struck by the horrific thought that he might have been one of the Bataclan suicide attackers," said Cotta, adding that she was asked by the dead man's mother to get in touch with investigators.

Mohamed-Aggad went to Syria in late 2013 with a gang of others from his neighbourhood in an area outside the eastern French city of Strasbourg. Seven of the group were arrested in May 2014 after returning to France.

It remained unclear when and how Mohamed-Aggad returned to France, where intelligence services are under scrutiny over their monitoring of the movements of home-grown jihadists.

His older brother Karim, who also went to Syria, is in jail in France, the officials said.

In Mohamed-Aggad's home town of Wissembourg, about 70km north of Strasbourg and near the German border, some people who knew him were surprised to learn of his role.

"I can't believe it was him," said Yazar Mesut, a 46-year-old neighbour, speaking in one of the town's bars. "He was intelligent and polite, knew what respect was about and didn't act like a big shot."

According to another neighbour who gave his name only as Youssef, the young man failed the police entrance exam by just a few points and was also refused by the army.

"That's the only time I saw him disappointed. He was complaining. He reckoned it was because of his foreign origins," said Youssef.

Mohamed-Aggad's Moroccan-born mother had raised the two brothers and a sister on her own after a divorce from her husband of Algerian descent about 10 years ago, he said.

The Bataclan shootings were part of a co-ordinated attack in Paris in which assailants killed 130 people at a string of cafes, near a sports stadium and at the Bataclan.

The other two attackers at the concert hall have been named as Samy Amimour, 28, from Drancy, north east of Paris, and Ismail Omar Mostefai, 29, a Frenchman of Algerian descent who lived for a time in Chartres, southwest of Paris.

The presumed ringleader of the November 13 attackers, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, a Belgian of Moroccan origin, died in a police raid the following week.

Another November 13 attacker, Salah Abdeslam, 26, French and born in Brussels, is still on the run.

AAP