France names first attacker, says it will destroy IS

France names first attacker, says it will destroy IS
Authorities say they have identified one of the assailants in Paris attacks as Ismael Omar Mostefai, a 29-year- old French national, as France vows to destroy the Islamic State.
5 min read
15 November, 2015
Thousands of French troops deployed around the French capital [Getty]

Thousands of French troops deployed around Paris on Sunday and tourist sites stood shuttered in one of the most visited cities in the world, while investigators questioned the relatives of a suspected suicide bomber involved in the country's deadliest violence since World War II.  

So called Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks on a stadium, a concert hall and Paris cafes that left 129 people dead and over 350 wounded, 99 of them seriously.  

The attacks had global impact. Security was heightened across France, across Europe's normally open borders, even across the ocean to New York, and how to respond to the Paris attacks became a key point among US Democratic presidential hopefuls at a debate Saturday night.  

Countries around the world doused their national buildings in the French colors of blue, white and red to honor the victims or, like the Eiffel Tower and New York's Empire State Building, went dark to express their sorrow.  

Assailant identified 

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said three groups of attackers, including seven suicide bombers wearing identical vests containing the explosive TATP, carried out the attacks.

The investigation reach well beyond France. The attackers mentioned Syria and Iraq, the Paris prosecutor said. Authorities in Belgium arrested three people in raids linked to the Paris attacks. A Syrian passport found next to the body of a man who attacked France's national stadium appeared to suggest he passed through Greece into the European Union last month. 

With 3,000 extra troops being mobilised to protect Paris, French authorities labored Sunday to identify the suicide bombers and hunt potential accomplices still at large. French authorities are particularly concerned about the threat from hundreds of French radicals known to have spent time in Syria. 

Details about one attacker began to emerge: 29-year-old Frenchman Ismael Mostefai, who had a record of petty crime and had been flagged in 2010 for ties to Islamic radicalism. He was identified from fingerprints found on a finger amid the bloody carnage from a Paris concert hall, the Paris prosecutor said. A judicial official and lawmaker Jean-Pierre Gorges confirmed his identity.  

Police detained his father, brother and other relatives Saturday night, and they were still being questioned Sunday, the judicial official said, on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.   

Syrian passport?

Officials in Greece, meanwhile, said the passport's owner entered Oct. 3 through Leros, one of the eastern Aegean islands that tens of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty have been using as a gateway into Europe.  

Belgian authorities raided a Brussels neighborhood and arrested three people near its border with France after a car with Belgian license plates was seen close to Paris' Bataclan theater, where at least 89 people died in a hailstorm of bullets. 

A French judicial official says a Seat car with suspected links to gun attacks on Paris bars and restaurants was found by police in Montreuil, a suburb 6 kilometers (nearly 4 miles) east of the French capital.  

In a statement claiming responsibility, the Islamic State group called Paris "the capital of prostitution and obscenity" and mocked France's air attacks on suspected IS targets in Syria and Iraq.  

French President Francois Hollande vowed that France

     Marine Le Pen has used the attacks on Paris to advance her anti-immigrant agenda.

would wage "merciless" war on the Islamic State group and declared three days of national mourning that began Sunday. He raised the nation's security to its highest level and banned all public demonstrations until Thursday.  

The president said France, already bombing Islamic State targets in a US-led coalition, would increase its military efforts to crush IS.  

Struggling to keep his country calm and united after an exceptionally violent year, Hollande was meeting Sunday with opposition leaders  conservative rival and former President Nicolas Sarkozy as well as increasingly popular far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has used the attacks on Paris to advance her anti-immigrant agenda.  

France was enveloped in mourning. Flags were lowered and Notre Dame Cathedral, closed to tourists like many Paris sites planned a special church service Sunday for families of the victims. 

Parisian Quentin Bongard said he left one of the targeted cafes after a fight with his girlfriend just moments before the attacks. 

"Those are all places that I go often to," he said, still shaken with emotion. "We just want to come here, bring flowers, because we don't want to be terrorised ... but it is frightening."   

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for several recent attacks. On Thursday, twin suicide bombings in Beirut killed at least 43 people and wounded more than 200, and 26 people died Friday in Baghdad in a suicide blast and a roadside bombing that targeted Shia. The militant group also said it bombed a Russian plane that crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 31, killing 224 people.

French Muslim groups firmly denounced all the attacks. Some are concerned about a backlash against France's overwhelmingly moderate Muslim community.  

Elsewhere in Europe, refugees fleeing to the continent by the tens of thousands feared that the Paris attacks will prompt EU nations to throw up even more border fences and other obstacles to their quest to start a new life.  

"This is the same act of terrorism like they act in Syria or Iraq," said Zebar Akram, a 29-year-old Iraqi refugee trudging through Slovenia, said of the IS attacks on Paris.

Refugees now "will be considered as probable attackers," said Abdul Selam, a 31-year-old from Syria.