American and European counterterrorism officials are on the trail of one of the alleged planners during the terror incidents in Brussels and Paris. The suspect's name has been added on the list of specially-designated global terrorists.
It has been revealed that the suspect on the US State Department's file is Abdelilah Himich, a Moroccan national who settled in France. Court records divulge that prior to joining the ISIS in Syria, he has served under the French Foreign Legion in Afghanistan.
US intelligence officers think that the 32-year old Himich is part of a unit operating out of Syria. It is believed that this 200-member European group is adept at forging documents, encrypting communications, smuggling arms and mapping out safe houses.
Files also unveil that Himich, who is also identified as Abu Sulayman Al-Faransi, has organized the Tariq Ibn Ziyad Battalion back in 2015. This European terrorist cell has been responsible for sending suicide bombers to Iraq, Syria and other countries.
While the American and French authorities concur that Himich is a senior foreign terrorist fighter, both have contrasting views about his participation during the attacks in Brussels and Paris.
A senior French officer believes that the information about Himich playing a prominent role in the Paris incident remains sketchy.
In another related development, Belgian and French authorities have unraveled another personality who participated in the Paris attack. Based on encrypted data, the suspect has been identified as alias Abu Ahmad but his true name is Osama Atar.
The 32-year old Belgian national has quite a history. After he has been suspected to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda (AQ), Atar is locked up at the Abu Ghraib prison and at Camp Bucca detention center where a co-inmate is Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi who will eventually organize the ISIS.
Atar is supposed to serve a ten-year sentence but Belgian politicians and human rights activities intervened on his behalf that resulted to his release in 2012. He promptly joins the ISIS.
According to Eric Van der Sypt, a Belgian prosecutor, Atar has been active in training and guiding the 10-man group that sowed violence in Paris. For four months, he has communicated under the radar with renowned suspects, Ibrahim and Khalid Bakraoui.
During their conversations, Atar uses the name Abu Ahmad. In addition to providing the cousins with bomb-making procedures, the one-time Al-Baghdadi inmate has also assisted them in mapping out the suicide attacks in Brussels. After the incident, Atar has fallen off the grid.