Scores Killed in Paris Terror Attack, while the Mastermind Still at Large

At least 128 people were killed in the organized onslaught late Friday, leaving a nation in grief and the world in shock.

French authorities say they believe that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian man was responsible for planning and organization the terrorist attacks in the French capital that left dozens dead. He is currently believed to be in Syria.

Using explosive devices and automatic weapons on Friday, 3 well-organized groups of attackers targeted 6 sites across Paris, the national stadium, a crowded concert hall and some high-end restaurants included. The Islamic State (IS) took responsibility for the attack. During his nation address, François Hollande, the French President described it as an “act of war.”

Through the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama offered his condolences and pledged to assist in the investigation. Previously, Obama had said that the attack was not just on Paris, or the people of France, but it was an attack on all humankind. In his statement, he termed the attacks as an “outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians.”

Russia also sent their condolences to the French republic via their leader, Vladimir Putin. In his statement, he said that Russia strongly condemned the inhumane killings and was ready to provide any and all assistance necessary to investigate the terrorist crimes.

Main attack sites included:

• The Bataclan concert venue – 89 dead in gun attacks, three gunmen were killed; while another died nearby

• La Belle Equipe – 19 people died in ensuing gun attacks

• Le Petit Cambodge restaurant and Le Carillon bar – 15 people died in the gun attacks

• La Casa Nostra restaurant – 5 died in the gun attacks

• Stade de France – 3 attackers and one onlooker killed

Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Interior Minister said that the country has conducting numerous raids, and detained various suspects and put more than 100 under house arrest. A police operation was also conducted in Brussels, Belgium; where shots and explosions were heard in Molenbeek district.

In the meantime, the brother of two suspects, Mohammed Abdeslam, arrested in Belgium, was released. His lawyer confirmed that he was freed without charge, after proving his innocence. His brothers are one Brahim Abdeslam, who was killed during the attacks, and Salah, who is on the run. Other four suspects arrested together with him in Belgium have also been released. The other two suspects (they were a total of seven) are still being held.

France held a countrywide “minute of silence” for the victims the following day, at midday local time (11:00 GMT).

Paris prosecutor François Molins said that 5 out of the 7 dead terrorists have been identified, however, police are still hunting down an eighth suspect who goes by the name Salah Abdeslam. So far, authorities have named 5 of the 7 gunmen who executed the recent attacks across Paris. They are:

• 29 yrs. old Ismael Omar Mostefai who attacked music fans at the Bataclan concert venue before blowing himself up using a suicide vest

• 28 yrs. Old Samy Amimour who also blew himself up at the music venue

• 25 yrs. Old Ahmad Al Mohammad who died after discharging a suicide bomb outside the soccer stadium. His name was on a Syrian passport found together with his body.

Molins, the Paris prosecutor stated that while the validity of the passport has been questioned, a man with matching fingerprints to Ahmad Al Mohammad used the same passport to enter Greece in October.

Samy Amimour was alleged to be facing terrorism charges (terrorist conspiracy) in France. He was under judicial supervision during the investigation period but jumped bail in 2013. Three of his relatives were among those arrested during the raid.

France is still in mourning. President Hollande declared a state of emergency and it remains effective as thousands of extra police and forces remain on the streets of Paris.

There is great unease over the apparent technique and possible organization that was used to pull off such a chain of attacks. The attacks resembled strategies that have been used by several other terror groups. Al Qaeda usually focuses on mass fatalities and visibility; while ISIS and its acolytes thrive in the small, tactical attacks. It is still not clear who is the responsible party.

Americans in France and especially in Paris who are safe have been asked by the State Department to call their families and loved ones; and so should U.S. citizens concerned about loved ones. There are hotlines that have been provided for that particular work.