Paris attacks mastermind 'had pictures of Birmingham on his phone'

Abdelhamid Abaaoud is said to have been in regular contact with a 'network of associates' in Britain's second city

Tom Brooks-Pollock
Monday 14 December 2015 08:37
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Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who planned the Paris attacks, is Belgian
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who planned the Paris attacks, is Belgian

The mastermind of the Paris terrorist attacks had photos of Birmingham on his mobile phone - part of a suspected plot to target landmarks in Britain's second city, according to reports.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud was also in regular touch with a "network of associates" in the city before his death in a shootout following the atrocities in the French capital.

An analysis of the 28-year-old Belgian's smart phone - seized from his hideout in the Paris suburb of St Denis - shows he made calls to Moroccans living in the Bordesley Green and Alum Rock areas of the Birmingham, the Mail on Sunday reported.

Salah Abdeslam

Both areas have been at the centre of anti-terrorism investigations by West Midlands Police, who have arrested several people suspected of visiting or intending to visit Isis-controlled areas of Syria and Iraq.

According to a security source quoted by the paper, the photos of Birmingham are thought to have been taken by Abaaoud himself.

It raises the possibility he visited the UK and may have been planning attacks on landmarks here.

Abaaoud was linked to four failed terror plots this year alone, but it is thought that he may have been able to enter Britain despite being the subject of a manhunt even before the 13 November attacks on Paris, which left 130 people dead.

It has been suggested another suspected member of the Paris cell, Salah Abdeslam, 26, who is still being hunted by police, is also believed to have entered the UK.

The sources did not say what the photos on Abaaoud's phone showed, but it is feared that targets for an attack could have included landmarks such as Villa Park football ground, Edgbaston cricket ground and the National Exhibition Centre.

West Midlands Police moved on Friday to dispel internet rumours that Birmingham was on the verge of being targeted in an Isis-inspired terror attack.

The force declined to comment on reports on the contents of Abaaoud's phone.

But its Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said in a statement: "The West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit is working hand-in-hand with colleagues in London, the national counter-terrorism network and security services to provide support to the French and Belgian investigations, and, of course, to address any associated terrorism threat to the UK."

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