Brussels/Paris/Da’esh – The cell that launched deadly attacks on Paris and Brussels had received its orders from "very high" in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) command, according to Belgium's federal prosecutor. Late 2015 a wave of bombings and shootings killed 130 people and injured hundreds more across the French capital. And in Mar 16 suicide blasts struck an airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital, leaving about 30 people dead. "We know that the orders came from the Islamic State zone. We know that it went very high in the command," Frederic Van Leeuw said in an interview with the AFP news agency in Brussels on the 9 Nov 16. He could not say exactly who gave the orders or whether they sent them from a base in Syria or Iraq, the territory run by ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He said the command moved around to dodge US-backed strikes. "Baghdadi was for a while in Mosul [in Iraq], sometimes in Raqqa [in Syria]," he said. "We don't know at all who are the people who really gave the orders. Da’esh claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris on the 13 Nov 15 as well as for the blasts in Brussels on the 22 Mar 16. Van Leeuw said the attacks were carried out by the same Franco-Belgian cell in which "the logisticians in one case became the operational ones in the following case". With authorities still looking for suspects, he said: "The investigation is far from having ended, as much at the Belgian as at the French level." French sources said on the 8 Nov 16 that French investigators had identified Oussama Atar, a Moroccan-Belgian fighter based in Syria, as a "coordinator" of attacks in Paris and Brussels. Van Leeuw said Atar's suspected role "is one of the working theories among others. There are a whole series of checks to be done". Atar, believed to go by the pseudonym "Abou Ahmad" in Syria, has been on the radar of European security forces for more than a decade. Abou Ahmad is suspected of having sent two suicide bombers to the national stadium in Paris as well as another pair of potential assailants, who were delayed on their way to Paris and arrested in Austria in Dec 15. After being arrested in Iraq in 2004 following the US-led invasion of the country, Atar spent time in various jails including the notorious Abu Ghraib prison used by American forces. After being released in 2012 he returned to Belgium before apparently making his way back to the Middle East but intelligence services lost track of him months ago. Asked why Atar had not been under surveillance, the prosecutor said even the French, who had more manpower, could not monitor someone round the clock. "We must abandon this idea that it is possible to follow people 24 hours a day even when a legal case is opened," he said. Van Leuw said Belgium had made "enormous progress" in the investigation into the attacks. "The goal is effectively to understand and retrace everything that happened before, to retrace the entire chain of command," he said, adding that much police work lay ahead.
Germany – German police have carried out nationwide dawn raids on more than 200 mosques, apartments and offices associated with an Islamist group it was reported on the 15 Nov 16. The raids came as the government banned the group, which it accused of trying to recruit fighters for so-called Islamic State (IS). The interior ministry said there was no indication DWR (True Religion) was planning attacks itself. Up to 900 people are estimated to have joined IS in Syria or Iraq via Germany. Some of them had had contact with DWR before they left. "We don't want terrorism in Germany... and we don't want to export terrorism," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. He added that the ban was also a measure to help protect peaceful Islam in the country. The government says the group, which distributed German-language copies of the Koran, had breached the constitution and incited hatred. There was no immediate statement from the group. "The message to the radical Islamist scene is clear: we do not tolerate fanatics who try to radicalise young people and send them to jihad," said Peter Beuth, interior minister for Hesse state, where some of the raids took place. "By banning this organisation, a major source of radicalisation has been eradicated nationwide. Those who spread hate messages can't hide behind freedom of religion."
(A report from Jun 16: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/germany-bans-ultaconservative-islamic-organization-raids-homes-mosques-article-1.1095528)