A French national who allegedly conceived and planned last November’s horrific terror attacks in Paris has been promoted to a top position in the so-called Islamic State’s foreign intelligence branch, according to a former ISIS intelligence operative who has since defected.

Abu Suleyman al-Firansi, the nom de guerre of this rising star in terrorist ranks, is believed to be the first West European ever to attain such an elite rank in ISIS—an indication of the emphasis the group is putting on attacks in the West and its reliance on people with European backgrounds to spearhead them.

His precise role and identity are a matter of debate in Western intelligence and counter-terror circles. But French and other U.S. officials who asked not to be named have confirmed his importance to the organization.

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