Abdelhamid Abaaoud is the key suspect behind the Paris attack. Right now he is believed to be in Syria with ISIS. The 27-year-old was raised in Molenbeek, a district of Brussels known for its many Arab immigrants, its high unemployment rate, and its overcrowded housing—perfect breeding grounds for terrorism.

He is an associate of Salah Abdeslam, who is on the run after the Paris massacre, and Salah’s brother, Brahim, who blew himself up during the attacks. Brahim died in the Comptoir Voltaire bar, without killing others, while other jihadis carried out deadly suicide attacks across Paris. They are all believed to have been recruited by Daash.

Abaaoud is closely connected with Mehdi Nemmouche, a jihadi of Algerian origin, who shot and killed four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May, 2014. Nemmouche lived in the hotbed area of Molenbeek—an area where, Belgian officials admit, radical Islamist ideology is strong and popular with young Muslims. In recent years, Molenbeek has had “the highest concentration of foreign terrorist fighters in Europe,” said Liesbeth van der Heide, of Leiden University’s Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism in the Netherlands. Belgium has produced more people who have gone to fight for ISIS than any other EU country.

Salah Abdeslam.

“Belgian authorities suspect that Abaaoud helped organise and finance a terror cell in Verviers, Belgium. It was disrupted by police raids in January. Two jihadis were killed in Verviers—later identified by ISIS as Khalid Ben Larbi (alias Abu Zubayr, 23) and Soufiane Amghar (alias Abu Khalid, 26).”

Abaaoud managed to get by security forces while traveling to Syria in January 2014 to fight alongside ISIS, and is believed to have then travelled to Greece. In an interview that took place in Syria this year and was published in Dabiq magazine—a magazine for ISIS supporters—in February, Abaaoud said he has previously traveled from Syria to Belgium to carry out attacks in Europe. However, he says he later returned to Syria after his terror group was disrupted  by Belgian and French special forces and his mates were killed. He claimed he was chosen by ISIS leaders to launch the attacks in Paris, and was accompanied by two others.

No doubt if Abaaoud is in Syria, he’s there hiding like a trapped rat. His little follower, Salah Abdeslam, is now on the run and will no doubt be trying to get there to join him. France and the world must not let this coward reach Syria. If he does, it will be a blow to the whole of the EU security forces, proving that terrorists can slip by so easily. All efforts must now be focused on tracking him down and putting him in the ground. But not before we extract every name he has locked in his mind. From there we can begin to hunt.

(Featured image courtesy of nbcnews.com)