Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged mastermind behind the cell which was dismantled in Verviers in January, claims to have “planned” attacks in Belgium and to have managed to go back to Syria, in an interview which he supposedly gave Dabiq, the IS magazine, and which they published online on Thursday. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, called Abu’Umar Al-Baljiki by the magazine, says he managed to enter Europe at an unspecified time, in the latest edition of the propaganda tool for ISIS.
The 27-year-old Belgian of Moroccan origin, who fought with ISIS, explains that “he was chosen by Allah with Abu-Zubayr and Abu Khalid (the 2 suspects killed in the Verviers intervention) to go to Belgium and terrorise crusaders at war with Islam.” He points to Belgium as being part of a “coalition of crusaders fighting Muslims in Iraq and in Syria.” “Eventually we managed to enter Belgium. We succeeded in getting weapons and set up a hideaway whilst planning operations against the crusaders,” he explains.
Investigators identified the men he speaks of as 26-year-old Sofiane A. who is both Moroccan and Belgian, and 23-year-old Belgian Khalid B. They were killed when their Verviers hideaway was assaulted by police forces on January 15th. Abaaoud also boasts of not being recognised by a police officer during a police check. “I was stopped by a police officer who looked at me for a while before checking the picture, but he did not recognise me and let me go. This could only be another gift from Allah,” says the man whose picture was published in Verviers media shortly after the police intervention.
Dabiq, reputedly one of the communications channels used by the jihadist group, says Abaaoud is once again in Syria. “I managed to leave and come to Cham (the Arabic name for either Syria or Damascus) in spite of the search operations set up by so many intelligence agencies,” he boasts, without revealing when he supposedly left Belgium and whether he travelled through Greece.