Paris terror attacks: Radio interview reveals new details about ringleader

Story highlights

  • A woman tells French radio that she tipped off investigators to the attack ringleader's whereabouts
  • Her interview with RMC radio reveals details about Abdelhamid Abaaoud and his purported plot

(CNN)Days before he died in a shootout with police, the ringleader of the Paris terror attacks boasted that he'd slipped into France without identification papers -- and that 90 people from different countries did the same, according to a widely cited radio interview.

Who was Abdelhamid Abaaoud?
Who was Abdelhamid Abaaoud?


    Who was Abdelhamid Abaaoud?


Who was Abdelhamid Abaaoud? 02:02
France's RMC radio interviewed a woman claiming to be the witness who tipped off investigators to Abdelhamid Abaaoud's whereabouts in the days after the November attacks.
    The woman's voice was disguised in the interview, and her identity was not revealed. She told RMC that she was friends with Abaaoud's cousin and met the attack mastermind when they were looking for a place to stay.
    The interview, which also aired on CNN affiliate BFMTV, reveals new details about the ringleader and his plan:
    • Abaaoud was planning to carry out attacks against a police station and a child care center in the Paris business district of La Defense on November 19, the woman says, citing a conversation she had with his cousin.
    • The ringleader proudly claimed responsibility for the November 13 attacks, which killed 130 people in the French capital. But he purportedly disputed her accusation that he'd killed innocent people. "No, they are not innocent. You have to look at what is happening to us in Syria," Abaaoud said, according to the woman.
    • Abaaoud purportedly told her that the others who'd entered France without identification papers had fanned out across the region.

    Prosecutor condemns the news reports

    The interview drew swift action from the Paris prosecutor's office, which said it had launched an investigation into RMC and BFMTV for allegedly breaching the confidentiality of the French terror investigation and endangering the lives of others. BFMTV said neither it nor its sister network RMC had broken any laws, since the woman reached out to RMC to tell her story.
    Inside a terror breeding ground
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      Inside a terror breeding ground


    Inside a terror breeding ground 03:40
    The woman told the broadcaster that she was speaking out now, months after the attacks, because she feels abandoned by authorities and fears for her life.
    Abaaoud, a Belgian-Moroccan ISIS operative, was killed in a raid on an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis six days after the attacks that killed 130 people.
    In November, the Paris prosecutor told reporters that they'd traced Abaaoud to the apartment hideaway after receiving a witness account that he was on French soil.
    The ringleader's purported comments that 90 people had slipped into France without identification papers and fanned out across the region come as authorities estimate that about 1,900 people have returned to Europe after fighting in Iraq and Syria.
    The terror threat in Europe is as high as it's ever been, a U.S. official told CNN this week.
    France and Belgium are considered to be at the highest risk of a terror attack, a U.S. intelligence official said, while Germany and Britain also face a heightened terror threat.