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Moroccan-Belgian Named Leader of Paris Attack

Still image of Abdelhamid Abaaoud made available in the Islamic State's English-language magazine Dabiq. (AP)

Still image of Abdelhamid Abaaoud made available in the Islamic State's English-language magazine Dabiq. (AP)

French officials say the man who is suspected of organizing Friday’s terrorist attack in Paris is Belgian citizen Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

Police say Abaaoud is 27 years old. He is said to be part of a Brussels-based terrorist cell. He avoided capture in Europe and is believed to be in Syria.

Belgian media says Abaaoud is of Moroccan descent. He has been wanted since January following a gun battle with police in eastern Belgium.

Abaaoud is suspected of organizing the attacks Friday that left at least 129 people dead and more than 300 wounded in Paris. He has also been linked to failed attacks on a Paris-bound train in August and a church in April.

Abaaoud played a part in recruiting others to join the Islamic State group. He even recruited his own 13-year-old brother, according to French media.

The Guardian reports Abaaoud spent time fighting with the Islamic State, also called ISIS, in Syria. His link to the terrorist group came after he was identified in an ISIS video.

French police continued to raid possible terrorist safe houses Monday. More than 150 raids have taken place. The raids took place in Toulouse, Grenoble, Jeumont, Lyon and the Paris suburbs. Ten people were detained. Weapons also were taken in the raids, including a rocket launcher, guns and bulletproof vests.

French investigators identified one suicide bomber of Friday’s attacks as Samy Amkimour. Amkimour was a 28-year-old Frenchman charged in a terrorism investigation in 2012.

I'm Mario Ritter.

Lisa Bryant reported on this story for Jim Dresbach adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

cell – n. a small group of people who work together secretly as part of a larger organization or group

descent – n. the home country or ethnic group of a person

recruit – v. to find people and get them to join an organization

rifle – n. a gun that has a long barrel and that is held against your shoulder when you shoot it

vest – n. a special piece of clothing that you wear on your upper body for protection or safety

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