3 possible teams involved in Paris attacks

  • 16/11/2015
A man attaches a banner, which translates as "Don't scare me", to a statue at Place de la Republique near sites of the deadly attacks in Paris (Reuters)
A man attaches a banner, which translates as "Don't scare me", to a statue at Place de la Republique near sites of the deadly attacks in Paris (Reuters)

By Nicolas Gaudichet

French investigators believe there were three teams involved in Friday's attacks on Paris and are probing possible links to the conflict in Syria in a joint inquiry with Belgium.

Seven of the gunmen and suicide bombers who took part in the carnage, which killed 129 and was claimed by Islamic State jihadists, died in the bloodshed.

The discovery of a black Seat car containing several AK47 rifles, which was used by the attackers at several locations, has raised questions about others who may still be at large in a probe which is increasingly pointing to Belgium.

Investigators are working on the theory that there were three teams.

The initial strike was by a team of suicide bombers outside the Stade de France where the first blew himself up while the French and German national football teams were playing a friendly. The other two set off their explosive belts at 9:30pm  and 9:53pm (local time).

Despite US media reports, there is no proof any had a ticket to the game, investigation sources say. It remains unclear why the first attacker blew himself up outside the stadium in an area with no people.

The second team entered the Bataclan concert hall at around 9:40pm (local time). Among them was 29-year-old Paris native Omar Ismail Mostefai. Three attackers were killed during a counter-assault by French security forces.

According to a source close to the inquiry, the third team carried out three shooting attacks on several bars and restaurants in central Paris at around the same time, firing hundreds of bullets. A suicide bomber also blew himself up in a bar on Boulevard Voltaire.

Since 2012, jihadists heading to Syria have been the biggest concern for Europe's counter-terror services, with France and Belgium among the countries most concerned by the phenomenon.

Although the security forces had opened an "S file" on Mostefai - a category for suspects who are potentially radicalised - he passed under the radar, and in all probability spent some time in Syria in 2014.

Investigators remain cautious over the Syrian passport found near the body of the first suicide bomber to blow himself up by the stadium. The name on it is unknown to French anti-terror authorities. And a source close to the inquiry said it remained unclear whether the holder of the passport was in fact one of the suicide bombers. Greek police said they have been asked for information on two Syrians who registered as refugees in recent months, but the figure of two has not been confirmed, with French investigators seeking information on just one name, the source said.

The attackers used automatic weapons and a number of Kalashnikovs were found on Saturday evening in an abandoned black Seat car in the eastern suburb of Montreuil. The car is believed to be the one in several of Friday's attacks.


French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says 103 bodies have been identified from Friday's attacks in Paris, with 20 to 30 more still awaiting identification.

"They will be (identified) in the coming hours," said Valls on Sunday outside the Ecole Militaire where a centre has been set up for the victims' families.

At least 129 people were killed, according to the latest official toll.

"These are not anonymous victims. They are lives, young people, who have been targeted while they spent a quiet evening in a cafe, or at a concert," Valls told reporters.

"No psychologist, no volunteer, no doctor can console them," he said of the grieving families.

"But we must help them with the process, with identifications, to accompany them ... through all the administrative tasks."