ISIS Was Planning Massive Operation Before 2015 Paris Terror Attack

The network of ISIS jihadists behind the devastating 2015 attacks in Paris had planned for an even greater bloodbath — as well as additional strikes in other European countries, it was reported Monday.

Citing a trove of about 90,000 pages of documents from European investigations, CNN reported about another suspected terrorist, identified for the first time as Abid Tabaouni, who was linked to the Paris attacks and had been on the loose in Europe. He was only collared in July.

The documents also revealed new information about two captured extremists who intended to attack France and shed light on the branch of ISIS that plots attacks in Europe, where operatives await instructions from handlers in Syria.

“ISIS is increasing its international attack planning,” said Paul Cruickshank, a terrorism analyst who contributed to CNN’s investigation and editor of CTC Sentinel, a publication issued by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

“It’s increasingly sophisticated in the way it does this. It’s set up an intricate, logistical support system for these terrorists … to launch these terrorist attacks,” he said.

CNN, which also pored through data pulled from cellphones, found that the jihadists used encrypted apps such as Viber, Telegram and WhatsApp for their communications.

The ISIS handlers protected their missions by using pseudonyms and providing operatives with only as much information and money as they needed for the next phase of their missions.

A senior European counter-terrorism official said that the Paris mission — which included plans to hit other targets in France — was a slimmed-down version of an even more ambitious plan to strike Europe, including in the Netherlands. ISIS also has stepped up efforts to infiltrate operatives into the UK to launch attacks there.

European security agencies also had some successes, however, including the capture of two men who intended to travel to France along with the two suicide bombers who blew themselves up outside a Paris stadium.

The men were identified as Algerian-born Adel Haddadi and his Pakistani cohort, Muhammad Usman, who were supposed to take part in the Paris attacks but were delayed when Greek officials held them for using fake Syrian passports while posing as immigrants six weeks before the attacks.

After being released in late October, Haddadi and Usman contacted their shadowy ISIS handler in Syria, Abu Ahmad, who arranged for someone to wire them 2,000 euros to continue along the refugee route.

“Usman was preoccupied with a strikingly un-Islamic hobby — using his phone to peruse almost two dozen X-rated sites, including ‘sexxx lahur’ and ‘Pakistani Lahore college girls … ImakeSex,’” CNN reported.

The two others, Ahmad al-Mohammad and Mohamad al-Mahmod, would later blow themselves up outside the national stadium in Paris.

The four were kept in the dark about the mission. All Haddadi knew, he later told authorities, was that they were being sent to France to do “something for the good of God.”

“Abu Ahmad … is key in sending those individuals, at least the foreigners, into the Paris attacks,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, president and chairman of the French Center for the Analysis of Terrorism, who reviewed the documents for CNN. “He is the one who recruited them, who funds them, who trained them. He was always in contact with them.”

Like Usman and Haddadi, Tabaouni traveled from Syria along the refugee route, arriving in Salzburg, Austria, on Dec. 10.

The Morrocan, who was meant to join Haddadi and Usman to launch a follow-up attack, had programmed into his phone the number linked to the terror cell of the ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

“We can assume that Tabaouni was also part of the same plot,” Brisard said. “And (that he) was instructed to carry out an attack.”

Tabaouni, who was nabbed in Brussels, faces extradition to Austria. Haddadi and Usman were extradited to France, where they face terrorism charges.

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