The Islamic extremist who turned a concert into a bloodbath, orchestrated the murder of hundreds, and ripped apart a city has now been killed. According to two senior European intelligence officials quietly on Wednesday speaking to the media, Paris attack mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud has been gunned down in a suburb of Saint-Denis. Abaaoud appears to have been taken down after massive raid of more than 100 counter-terrorism and police officers, with a discarded ‘burner’ cellphone leading to the ‘safehouses’.
An official statement on Abaaoud has now confirmed Abaauod’s death.
The offing of Abaaoud marks a huge victory in a multi-day dragnet that has rounded up radical Islamic ‘soldiers’ responsible for the attack. The Saint-Denis stand-off also marks another surge in bloodshed and violence in Paris, with gunfire injuring or perhaps killing Parisian anti-terrorist officers. Diesel, a 7 year-old police dog involved in the pre-dawn raid, was killed by terrorist gunfire, according to French police.
But the more heavy casualties are being faced by the perpetrators themselves, though broader questions of security and future attacks now hover over the Western world. On Wednesday, a group of five Syrians were caught trying to sneak into Honduras with faked Greek passports; more than half of US state governors have erected all-out bans on the acceptance of Syrian refugees.
French police publicly confirmed the death of Hasna Aitboulahcen, a cousin of Abaaoud’s, who killed herself by detonating a suicide belt. But while Abaaoud was bragging about slipping across borders, Aitboulahcen has been on the inside for years. Aitboulahcen was a secured French citizen, and even a manager of Beko Construction, a now-defunct firm based north of Paris.
For the music industry, shock has now shifted towards depression. Just this morning, Eagles of Death Metal placed all of their future shows on hold, while Prince canceled his entire European tour. Others, including U2, Motörhead, and Foo Fighters, have all canceled dates, with mega-venue companies like Live Nation stressed to massively increase security at vulnerable events worldwide,
Perhaps most depressingly, the identities of three slain Universal Music Group employees have now been confirmed, with uncertain questions over what live music performances will look like in the coming months. That is horrible news for artists, many of whom make their bread-and-butter from gigs but may now be faced with altered or canceled itineraries, not to mentioned stepped-up security concerns and lingering on-stage apprehension.
Manu Perez, a Universal Records France employee with an upbeat smile, is perhaps reflective of a buzz now killed.
More as this develops.