The U.S. State Department on 17 August sanctioned two Islamic State (IS) operatives, Ahmad al-Khald (or Ahmad Alkhald), who was involved in the November 2015 terrorist atrocities in France and the March 2016 bombings in Belgium, and Iyad Hamid Mahl al-Jumayli (Abu Yahya al-Iraqi), IS’s internal security chief.
Ahmad al-Khald, a Syrian national, is “an ISIS bomb-maker responsible for the deaths of numerous civilians in Europe”, the State Department explains, and was “the explosives chief of the terrorist cell that carried out the November 2015 attacks in Paris and the March 2016 attacks in Brussels”. Al-Khald “travelled to Europe, where he helped plan the Paris attacks and manufacture the explosive belts used in that plot”. Al-Khald returned to Syria “shortly before” the Paris attacks, but “continued to guide ISIS operatives in Europe on making the bombs used in the … Brussels attacks”. Al-Khald is said to have provided technical guidance to Najim Laachraoui, one of the suicide-killers at Zaventem airport.
Salah Abdeslam, the lead logistician of the Paris attacks, picked up a fourth batch of IS operatives on 2 October 2015. Abdeslam’s three previous trips were to Hungary; this one was to Ulm, Germany. There, Abdeslam met Usama Krayem, Sofiane Ayari, and “A. Ahmed”, all of whom had entered Europe in September 2015 through Leros, Greece, with th
e refugee flow. Abdeslam’s brother, Brahim, blew himself up at the Comptoir Voltaire brasserie on 13 November 2015. Salah famously backed out of conducting his suicide-murder operation that night and was subsequently arrested, after a Continent-wide manhunt, hiding in his native Molenbeek. Ayari was arrested alongside Abdeslam on 18 March 2016, four days before the Brussels attacks. Krayem, also known as Naim al-Hamed, was arrested on 8 April 2016 in the company of Mohamed Abrini.
“Ahmed” remains at large. He carried forged Syrian and Belgian documents, which were later found by authorities in Belgium. “Ahmed” spent time in Hungary at the Bicske refugee center, where he was arrested at one point. “Ahmed” then moved on to Austria and finally went back to Syria via Turkey on 16 November. Though there is a slight discrepancy with the State Department designation—which says al-Khald returned to Syria before the Paris attacks—“A. Ahmed” is believed to be al-Khald.
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