NEW: FBI monitoring for possible copycats
Hasna Ait Boulahcen was the female suicide bomber who died during Wednesday's raid
Suspected Paris attacks mastermind seems to have been involved in 4 foiled attacks, an official says
A suicide bomber blew herself up and a police sniper took out a second terror suspect after authorities stormed two apartments and a church Wednesday in the northern Parisian suburb where one of last week’s deadly terrorist attacks took place.
Another key suspect linked to Friday’s atrocities by ISIS attackers in the French capital is still at large. And Belgian authorities are conducting fresh raids around Brussels.
Here are the most important developments from Wednesday:
• NEW: How did authorities know that a Paris suburb was where to find Abaaoud, who’d previously been targeted by French airstrikes in Syria? The information was relayed after last Friday’s attack, according to a source close to the investigation. “Remember he’s Moroccan, his parents are Moroccan. We searched through methods we have, that our personnel have to inquire within France after it was known he was behind the attacks,” a senior Moroccan government official said. “From that, we found that he hadn’t left France, so he could prepare other attacks.”
• NEW: The search for Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam has been extended to include the Netherlands, where Abdeslam had spent time in the past, a source close to the investigation told CNN. A spokesperson for the Dutch justice ministry told the news website NU.nl that the search had not expanded into the Netherlands.
• NEW: Following the terror attacks in Paris, the FBI is closely monitoring dozens of people they think pose the highest threat of attempting to carry out a copycat attack in the United States, according to FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters. No relationship exists between the Paris attackers and anyone in the United States, they said.
The investigation and the raid
• Hasna Ait Boulahcen was the suicide-vest-clad woman killed during Wednesday’s raid on an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, official sources in France told CNN. Boulahcen, 26, was a relative of Abaaoud, the sources said. Friends of her family in their hometown of Aulnay-sous-Bois, on the northeastern outskirts of Paris, said she had lived there until recently. The Paris prosecutor’s office earlier told CNN that police were searching the home of the female suicide bomber’s mother there.
• Multiple raids were conducted in Belgium in connection with Hadfi Bilal, a suicide bomber in last week’s Paris attacks, according to a statement from the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office.
• Though authorities have confirmed that Abaaoud died as a result of the police raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, they don’t yet know whether he blew himself up, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
• Papillary prints – which include prints from fingers, palms and soles – led officials to identify Abaaoud’s remains, the French prosecutor’s office announced in a statement.
• A lawyer for Abaaoud’s father told CNN the father is “relieved” his son is dead. Attorney Nathalie Gallant said father Omar Abaaoud thinks his son was a “psychopath” and a “devil,” and he feels guilty about his son’s radicalization.
• Abaaoud was linked to at least four foiled terror attacks the spring, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said, and had ties with several other known jihadists.
• Abaaoud used social media to try to recruit Spanish citizens, mostly women, to join ISIS in Syria, Spain’s Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez told Spanish television station, Antena 3 TV.
• A captain with Paris police’s Research and Investigation Brigade, which responded to Friday’s attack at the Bataclan Theatre, described in an NBC interview the “hell on Earth” his team encountered there. Upon taking position at the theater, he said several hundred people lay on the floor. “Tons of bloods everywhere. No sound. Nobody was screaming … and a lot of light because it was like a concert.” The people in the auditorium were lying motionless, he told NBC, “because they were afraid of the terrorist.”
• Video released by dailymail.com in London captures one of the Paris attacks at a cafe. A gunman sprays the front of the cafe and its outdoor bistro tables with bullets as glass shatters and patrons scramble to safety. The gunman approaches a woman near the front door and points an assault rifle at her. The weapon appears to jam, and the gunman walks off. The woman and another customer make a run for it.
• The shootout in Saint-Denis began at 4:20 a.m. and lasted nearly an hour, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said. At least two people died, he said. Neither has been identified. CNN affiliate BFMTV reported a police sniper killed one of the suspects.
The scene in France
• France will push the European Union to strengthen external borders before the end of the year, Cazeneuve said.
• Lawmakers approved a plan by French President Francois Hollande to extend until February 2016 the state of emergency declared the night of the Paris attacks. The bill, which gives the government sweeping powers, now goes to France’s Senate, for a Friday vote.
• Hollande reiterated his country’s commitment to accepting refugees, describing it as a “humanitarian duty.” In the next two years, 30,000 refugees will be welcomed, he said, but authorities also will conduct security screening. “We have to make the necessary checks before accepting refugees on our soil,” he said. “That’s what we did and that’s what we will continue to do.”
• An anti-terror rally planned outside the Grand Mosque o