EC chief says Schengen is ‘comatose’ and warned euro may collapse without it, as Brussels emerges from four days of lockdown
• Two still on the loose: Abdeslam, and new suspect Mohamed Abrini
• Mastermind Abaaoud planned to don suit to blend in and attack commercial centre
• Brussels reopens after lockdown
• US issues rare worldwide travel alert due to terror threats
Summary of events
• The Mayor of the Brussels district of Molenbeek received a list with the names of more than 80 suspected jihadists living in the area just one month before the Paris attacks. The New York Times reported that on this list attacks mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and the two brothers who took part – Brahim and Salah Abdeslam – who remains at large. Their apartment was just 100 metres from the Mayor’s office, and could be viewed from her window.
• Brussels is coming back to life after four days of lockdown following the intelligence that there would be an “imminent” attack on the city. The metro is slowly reopening, as are schools and nurseries. Armed guard remains in place throughout the city, and it continues to be on Level 4 terror alert, meaning that an attack is imminent.
• Jean-Claude Juncker has admitted that Schengen is “comatose” and warned that the euro will collapse without it. The president of the European Commission was responding to parties such as Ukip who argue that Schengen has granted “free movement of jhad”.
• Germany contributing 650 soldiers to France’s Mali operation to grant them relief in their fight against Isil. Meanwhile, the French interior minister has confirmed that the climate change conference in next week Paris will go ahead, and said that more police officers had been drafted out to borders and to Le Bourget where it is taking place.
• Last night we learned that the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks Abaaoud returned to the Bataclan concert venue while a police operation to kill the remaining gunmen was still under way. This meant he was there minutes before President Hollande was in the vicinity.
• We also learned that police are searching for another man in connection with the Paris attacks. Mohammad Abrini, 30, Belgian of Moroccan origin, was seen by police on video footage at a car fuelling station in Ressons, a town north of Paris, on the day before the attacks. The Renault Clio the two were seen in was one of the cars used in the attacks. A Belgian police notice describes Abrini as “dangerous and probably armed”.
Eagles of Death Metal say they will finish the gig that the attackers interrupted
The drummer for Eagles of Death Metal, Julian Dorio, has said that he is “counting down the days until I get to finish that concert.”
He added that he was “forever changed” by the event: ‘To everyone who, in the face of unrelenting evil, went toe to toe using courage, compassion, and love as their weapons. You all are my heroes.”
Brussels highest terror alert to remain
Brussels’ top level terror alert is due to remain until at least next Monday. The Belgian federal prosecutor has prolonged the detention of Abraimi Lazez, a Moroccan from Molenbeek, for one month.
He is accused of taking part in “terrorist murders” and helping Abdelsam escape. The prosecutor said yesterday that traces of blood and two pilots were found in his car.
Ali O., a Frenchman also from Molenbeek, is also suspected of helping Abdeslam escape, and will appear in court on Friday.
The Belgian government has ordered health and emergency services to take precautionary measures to ensure their services aren’t infiltrated by extremists.
“We have to be sure that we can see everybody has an identification badge,” Health Minister Maggie De Block told VRT network. “When ambulances arrive, we have to see from where they come, who is in it. Really as a precaution.”
Meanwhile, Mohamed Adbeslam, the brother of terrorists Salah and Brahim, confirms he met Mohamed Abrini, the man now wanted by Belgian over the massacres – and claims he has received messages of support from the families of victims.
He insists he had no idea his brothers were planning the atrocity, and has said they told their mother they were going skiing before the attack.
“Fortunately, there are many people who believe me and I get a lot of messages of support, from a lot of French in particular, families of victims,” he said.
“I totally understand their anger against me and my family. But I also want to tell them that, while unfortunately we did nothing, we did not want what happened in Paris.”
Fly the tricolore on French day of mourning on Friday
President Francois Hollande called for French citizens to adorn their homes with flags during the day of mourning for victims of the Paris attacks.
Friday will be a day of homage to the victims, during which the president said citizens “could participate by decorating their homes with the blue, white and red flag,” government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said.
Brussels slowly comes back to life
Brussels is creaking back to life to life today, writes Matthew Holehouse.
The terrorist threat level remains Four, meaning an attack is imminent.
But most of the tube lines are running, and 300 police have been deployed to guard schools, which are open.
The ministry of health has warned the emergency services to be on guard for attacks.
It has also told fire stations to secure their equipment to prevent it being stolen, allowing terrorists to pose as fire officers.
Molenbeek mayor received list of 80 suspected jihadist residents one month before attacks
The Mayor of the Brussels district of Molenbeek received a list with the names of more than 80 suspected jihadists living in the area just one month before the Paris attacks.
The New York Times reports that the list included the two brothers who took part in the attacks – Brahim and Salah Abdeslam – as well as Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind.
He was a Molenbeek resident who left for Syria to join the so-called Islamic State in 2014.
Mayor of Molenbeek, Françoise Schepmans, said in an interview: “What was I supposed to do about them? It is not my job to track possible terrorists”.
That “is the responsibility of the federal police”, she said.
The brothers lived very close to Ms Schepmans’ office: their flat was just 100m from City Hall, visible from her office.
A third brother, Mohamed Abdeslam, worked for the mayor’s administration.
The New York Times also reports that the mayor of the eastern Belgian town of Verviers, Muriel Targnion, was given a similar list of 34 residents who authorities suspected as jihadists.
But that was all that was on the list: “All I was given was a number,” she said. “No names, no addresses. Nothing.”
Paris St Germain to wear ‘Je Suis Paris’ shirts
Juncker: Schengen is ‘comatose’ and euro will collapse without it
Jean-Claude Juncker has admitted that Schengen is “comatose” and warned that the euro will collapse without it, wites Matthew Holehouse.
Speaking in the European parliament in session to mark the Paris attacks, the president of the European Commission responded to parties such as Ukip who argue that Schengen has granted “free movement of jhad”.
“Please don’t get things mixed up. We should not exploit in an absurd manner these tragic events,” said Juncker.
“We have to safeguard the spirit behind Schengen. Yes, the Schengen system is partly comatose. But those who believe in Europe, its values, its principles and its freedoms, must try to breath new life into the spirit behind Schengen.
“If the spirit leaves our hearts, we will lose more than Schengnen.
“A single currency does not exist if Schengen fails. It is not a neutral concept. It is not banal. It is one of the pillars of the construction of Europe.”