The Guardian reports: In an interview with the Islamic State magazine Dabiq [published in February], Abaaoud boasted that he had been able to plot attacks against the west right under the nose of Belgian intelligence agencies, and that he was in Syria in February.
The militant, also known as Abu Umar al-Baljiki, said he and two fellow jihadis travelled to Belgium to “terrorise the crusaders waging war against the Muslims”.
Posing for pictures holding an Isis flag and the Qu’ran, the bearded Abaaoud said: “We faced a number of trials during the journey. We spent months trying to find a way into Europe, and by Allah’s strength, we succeeded in finally making our way to Belgium,” he told the magazine.
“We were then able to obtain weapons and set up a safe house while we planned to carry out operations against the crusaders. All of this was facilitated for us by Allah. There is no might nor power except by him.”
Abaaoud revealed he was stopped during the journey by “an officer” after a picture of him fighting for Islamic State was published in Belgian media; however the officer “let me go, as he did not see the resemblance,” he said. It is not clear when or where this alleged police intervention took place.
The 27-year-old said the two fellow jihadis killed by Belgian police during the raid in January were “blessed with shahādah [martyrdom], which is what they had desired for so long”.
Asked by the magazine why he became a suspect, Abaaoud said: “The intelligence knew me from before as I had been previously imprisoned by them. After the raid on the safe house, they figured out that I had been with the brothers and that we had been planning operations together. So they gathered intelligence agents from all over the world – from Europe and America – in order to detain me.
“They arrested Muslims in Greece, Spain, France, and Belgium in order to apprehend me … All those arrested were not even connected to our plans! May Allah release all Muslims from the prisons of these crusaders.”
He boasted that he had been able to plan terror attacks against westerners while living in Belgium and being wanted by intelligence agencies when he travelled to Syria in January 2014.
“I was able to leave … despite being chased after by so many intelligence agencies,” he told the magazine. “All this proves that a Muslim should not fear the bloated image of the crusader intelligence.
“My name and picture were all over the news yet I was able to stay in their homeland, plan operations against them, and leave safely when doing so became necessary. I ask Allah to accept the fruitful deeds of the shuhadā’ who terrorised the crusaders of America, France, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Belgium.”
Growing up in the Belgian capital’s Molenbeek district, a multi-ethnic area at the centre of Belgian police counter-terror operations, Abaaoud was described as a happy-go-lucky study who went to one of Brussels’ most prestigious high schools, Saint-Pierre d’Uccle. [Continue reading…]