In February 2014, when he appeared in an Islamist video driving a truck dragging the corpses of infidels. Interpol put out an international arrest for him after the video was posted online.
Abaaoud driving corpses behind his truck
When Abaaoud returned from Syria he was identified by the intelligence services and his name was put on the list of 80 terrorists known to be in town. Abaaoud found in town about a month before Paris attacks ...
Françoise Schepmans, mayor of Molenbeek, a Brussels district dubbed a "terrorists' den" due its links with jihadists, has admitted receiving a list with the names and addresses of more than 80 people suspected as Islamic militants living in her area. This included Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Molenbeek resident who had left for Syria to fight for the Islamic State in early 2014 and was killed last week outside Paris, along with Brahim Abdeslam , who blew himself up on the boulevard Voltaire and his brother Salah Abdeslam - currently on the run. Ms Schepmans told the New York Times: "What was I supposed to do about them? It is not my job to track possible terrorists." That, she added, was "the responsibility of the federal police".
David Thompson, author of the book French Jihadists said, speaking of Abaaoud,
"One must understand who this man is. He is the public face of the French-speaking jihadi world. His face was displayed for several days last year round-the-clock on all France's major news channels. In 2013 and 2014, on his own Facebook page, under his true identity, he posted videos of himself on the Syrian front, grenade launcher in hand, calling for people to join him."
What is so weird about all this is that such a person, who was so well known, infamous really, could move freely around Europe, and even get flagged in a report a month before the Paris attacks as being back in town, and still go on to do something like that. WTF?
This is the sort of thing that will fuel no end of conspiracy theories about how the French government did the Paris attacks. You know, Hitler burned down the Reichstag, Bush and Cheny did 911, and now Hollande deliberately planned the Paris attacks so that the right wing could lock down France. It is predictable. We will be hearing that stuff for a long time.
No one can say that this was a failure of the French Intelligence, or that it was somehow a failure to have a state of emergency, or evidence of the need to lock the borders, or that it was proof of the dangers lurking hidden within the refugees, because everyone already knew that guy, and furthermore they already knew that he had returned from Syria and was back in town. Interpol had an international arrest warrant out for him after he posted that video of dragging the corpses of infidels behind his pick up truck, so it wasn't like they couldn't arrest him because 'they had nothing on him.' Nothing about this story suggests a failure of intelligence nor does it suggest a need for the paranoid fascist style clamp down in places like Belgium or France.
One of the most reasonable sounding explanations I have heard is that French Intelligence does not want to arrest 'radicalized Islamists' but instead wants them to come back to France so as to recruit more 'radicalized Islamists' so they can take them back to Syria to continue the fight against Assad, the Russians, and Iran. This would make Abaaoud one of those 'moderate Islamists' that all those governments say they are supporting to help topple Assad in Syria.
The alternative would be to accept all manner of conspiracy theories, for this was definitely NOT an intelligence failure nor was it a failure of the system such that now extreme right wing measures are required. Everything was working fine, and whatever went wrong went wrong in some other place in some other way.
So once again I ask, WTF?