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Paris attacker linked to Belgian IS cell

One of the suicide bombers in the Paris attacks had links to a Belgian Islamic State militant believed to be the mastermind of a jihadist cell dismantled in January, a report said on Monday.

The name of Paris attacker Brahim Abdeslam appears in several police files alongside leading militant Abdelhamid Abaaoud relating to criminal cases in 2010 and 2011, Flemish-language newspaper De Standaard reported.

“Investigators see a link with Verviers,” it said, referring to an eastern Belgian town where police shot dead two militants in January and broke up a cell aiming to kill Belgian police officers in the streets days after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

Belgian prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.

Abaaoud — a 27-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent who allegedly led the group and had fought with the Islamic State group in Syria — remains at large. He has claimed in the IS English-language magazine Dabiq to have rejoined the group in Syria.

Both Abdeslam, a Belgium-based Frenchman who blew himself up outside a bar on Boulevard Voltaire, and Abaaoud lived in the Brussels district of Molenbeek which has a reputation as a hotbed of Islamic militancy.

French police have launched an international manhunt for Abdeslam’s Brussels-born brother Salah, who is also said to be linked to the Paris attacks.

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