The suspected ringleader of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris reportedly dodged the Athens, Greece, police 10 months earlier, the BBC reported Tuesday. A January police operation in the Greek capital had targeted Abdelhamid Abaaoud prior to anti-terror raids in Belgium, but the Athens operation did not happen, according to a Belgian anti-terrorism source.
Abaaoud was suspected of guiding a Belgian terrorism cell by phone from Athens. He was killed five days after the Paris attacks.
The Greek operation was supposed to occur before the Jan. 15 raid in Verviers, Belgium, in which two suspected jihadis were killed. Two days after the Verviers operation, Greek police carried out raids at two apartments in Athens. While they were able to extract DNA evidence from both flats that was eventually linked to Abaaoud, they could not catch him. Greek authorities offered no details about how Abaaoud got away.
Five days after the Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead and hundreds injured, Abaaoud was killed in a police raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. He reportedly had been implicated in four of six foiled terrorist attacks by the Islamic State group in France this year.
Other suspected terrorists believed to be linked to the Paris attacks have also been connected to Greece. Salah Abdeslam, who is still on the run, reportedly traveled to Greece by ferry from Italy in August, according to BBC. Abdeslam is now believed to have possibly escaped to Syria, a source close to the investigation and a counterterrorism source told CNN last week. French national police issued an arrest warrant for Abdeslam three weeks ago, cautioning he was dangerous.
Two other suicide bombers associated with the attacks also are thought to have crossed over to Leros, Greece, from Turkey in October, pretending to be refugees.