Western officials said they suspect the terror network responsible for the grisly attacks in Paris last month has links to people in Britain, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Several people suspected of being linked to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Islamic State group militant who was the alleged leader of the massacre, are based in Britain, two Western officials said.
The people suspected of having connections to Abaaoud -- who was killed in a police raid in the wake of the Nov. 13 attacks -- are based in the Birmingham area, about 120 miles northwest of London. Birmingham reportedly has known links to Islamic extremism: Junaid Hussain, a leading hacker for ISIS who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in August in Syria, was a Birmingham native, and numerous Islamist terrorist cells of North African origin have been connected with Birmingham and its surrounding region, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Abaaoud is believed to have visited two British cities earlier this year: London and Birmingham. He reportedly met with people in both cities suspected of having the intention and capability to plot or assist in terrorist activity against Britain, the Guardian reported. The terrorism threat level is currently “severe,” which means officials believe an attempt is highly likely.
After the Paris attacks -- in which 130 people were killed and hundreds wounded in shootings and explosions targeting restaurants, bars and a concert venue -- British Prime Minister David Cameron had called for support from all political parties to bomb ISIS targets in Syria, arguing the terrorist group is using the north of the country as a sanctuary to launch attacks against Western targets, International Business Times previously reported. The airstrikes were approved earlier this week and hours later commenced.
A U.S. official told the Journal many European countries "including the U.K. are justifiably concerned about the possibility of follow-on terror attacks after the tragedy in Paris and remain on high-alert,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “This is heightened by the fact that law enforcement and security agencies are still seeking to identify and roll-up terrorist networks that may be connected” to Islamic State plotting, the official said.
Eleven terrorists were responsible for the carnage in Paris last month. Of those 11, nine are dead and two are on the run.