Abdelhamid Abaaoud 2
Who was Abdelhamid Abaaoud?
02:02 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

NEW: Lawyer for father says Oman Abaaoud believes son was psychopath, became radicalized in 2013

French officials confirm Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed in police raid

He was believed to be close to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

CNN  — 

Even in death, Abdelhamid Abaaoud was hard to pin down.

It took investigators a day to confirm the suspected ringleader of last week’s terror attacks in Paris was dead.

He was killed in a police raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on Wednesday. His identity was confirmed via prints from fingers, palms and soles, the Paris prosecutor’s office said Thursday.

Abaaoud’s body was riddled with impact marks in the building where French police tactical units led Wednesday’s assault. French officials did not say whether Abaaoud blew himself up or was shot by police.

Nathalie Gallant, an attorney for Abaaoud’s father, spoke to CNN’s Erin Burnett on Thursday and said Oman Abaaoud was “relieved” his son was dead. Gallant made a point to say he is not glad, but is relieved.

Omar Abaaoud, who lives in Morocco, told Gallant he thinks his son was a psychopath and a devil.

The Paris attacks, which killed 129, have shaken France and the world. But Abaaoud was not an unknown threat.

Linking ISIS leadership and European jihadists

Intelligence agencies had identified him as a link between ISIS leadership in Syria and European terror cells, and he is believed to have moved between several European countries without being apprehended.

Abaaoud, in his late 20s, had been on the counterterrorism radar for some time and was targeted in French airstrikes on Syria last month, a French counterterrorism source told CNN.

He was believed to be close to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

French military forces carried out airstrikes in October targeting an ISIS training camp for foreign fighters in Raqqa, Syria, in an effort to kill Abaaoud, the French counterterrorism source said.

“He was the one training foreign fighters,” and he spent time at the camp, the source said, but it’s not clear if Abaaoud was there at the time of the airstrikes.

France’s former top counterterror judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto the Paris attacks were planned in Syria.

Bruguiere said Abaaoud would certainly have been in contact with Baghdadi about an attack like the one last week. In addition, Bruguiere said, this fits with Baghdadi’s vision of establishing the ISIS caliphate and then exporting the war to the West.

A personal connection also points to Abaaoud’s alleged involvement in planning the Paris attacks. Salah Abdeslam – the on-the-run suspected eighth attacker – is a longstanding associate of Abaaoud, with both men involved in gangs in Molenbeek, Belgium, that carried out robberies and other petty crimes. The two were tried in the same criminal case related to that activity five years ago, Belgian terrorism analyst Guy Van Vlierden told CNN.

Several anti-terrorist raids were conducted this week in Molenbeek.

Who were the suspects behind the Paris attacks?