By Nick Beare
Police have made at least one arrest in connection to the Paris attacks following a four-hour siege in the Molenbeek district of Brussels this morning.
The raid is one of dozens undertaken by Belgian and French authorities in an attempt to find those responsible for Friday’s attacks.
Five of the seven people arrested in Brussels over the weekend have been released by police including Mohamad Abdeslam, brother of Salah Abdeslam, the man currently at large with an international warrant out for his arrest. A third brother, Ibrahim Abdeslam, was a suspected suicide bomber who died Friday.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said police raided many homes, arresting 23 people and seizing weapons in a nationwide sweep on suspected Islamist militants.
“In the last 48 hours, I have issued 104 warrants for house arrest of people who are surveyed closely by our services. Additionally, throughout France overnight police and armed police, with the help of the central and regional branches of our intelligence services, carried out 168 raids in the homes of people under suspicion,” he told journalists.
“Let this be clear to everyone, this is just the beginning, these actions are going to continue,” Cazeneuve said.
France is currently under a state of emergency that gives police special authority. French President Francois Hollande has appealed to Congress for an extended state of emergency to continue the search.
Turkey says it warned France twice about Paris attacker
According to a Turkish official, Turkish authorities had tipped off France about a potential terror threat from one of the Paris attackers on two separate occasions.
29-year-old French citizen Ismael Omar Mostefai was identified Sunday as one of the attackers at the Bataclan concert hall, where at least 89 were killed. Mostefaï’s name came up when investigating four other terror suspects in 2014, according to Turkish officials who spoke with the Huffington Post.
Islamic state threatens attack on Washington
In a new video posted Monday, the Islamic State vowed to attack Washington and countries taking part in bombing campaigns in Syria.
“We say to the states that take part in the crusader campaign that, by God, you will have a day, God willing, like France’s and by God, as we struck France in the centre of its abode in Paris, then we swear that we will strike America at its centre in Washington,” the man said.
The message in the video was delivered by a man identifying himself in subtitles as ‘Al Ghareeb the Algerian’.
The French government has called the Paris attacks an act of war, and launched its biggest bombing campaign to date in Syria on Sunday in coordination with U.S. forces. France has publicly declared that it will not end its air strikes against the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.
Potential mastermind of attack identified
Police have identified 27-year-old Belgian citizen Abdelhamid Abaaoud as the potential mastermind behind the attacks. Abaaoud is the son of Moroccan immigrants, and grew up in the Molenbeek district of Brussels.
Reports say Abaaoud is Belgium’s most notorious jihadi, with connections to various other terror plots foiled by police, and is said to have recruited his own 13-year-old brother to join him in Syria.
Anonymous declares war on ISIS
Hacker group Anonymous has declared war against ISIS in a YouTube video posted Saturday. In what it is calling its “biggest operation,” the collective has vowed to hunt down the militant group.
“Expect massive cyber attacks. War is declared. Get prepared,” says a man speaking French, donning the group’s signature Guy Fawkes mask.