Saint-Denis, France (November 18, 2015) — Two big developments start off Wednesday in the aftermath of the Paris attacks last week in which 129 people were killed:
The suspected ringleader of the deadly attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was the target of massive police raids in a northern Paris suburb that has resulted in the deaths of three suspects. Also, two Air France flights were diverted in U.S. airspace because of bomb threats.
Here’s the key information at this stage:
Suspects killed, others arrested in Paris suburb
Three major police raids took place in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis, home of the Stade de France national sports arena, the site of one of Friday’s attacks. Two were at apartments; the third was at a church.
Police sources tell CNN the raid at the apartment was “right on time” because the suspects were “about to move on some kind of operation.”
Two suspected terrorists were killed in the apartment raids. Five police officers were injured and a police dog was killed, police said.
The raids focused on two different apartments in the same street, a Paris police source told CNN. The raid on one group led to a raid on another group, the source said.
The location had been under surveillance Tuesday, the source said.
One of the suspected terrorists blew herself up with a suicide vest, officials said.
Seven arrests were made.
The apparent ringleader of the attack, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was the main target, a senior Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN, but the official cautioned authorities weren’t certain that Abaaoud was at the location.
CNN’s Atika Shubert reported five or six explosions at the scene. It wasn’t clear if the explosions were controlled or otherwise.
Bomb threats ground flights
Two Air France flights headed for Paris — one from Washington’s Dulles Airport and the other from Los Angeles — were diverted to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Salt Lake City, respectively, following bomb threats, officials say.
Both flights have now been searched and rendered safe.
It is unknown whether the same person called in both threats.
Obama slams states over refugee refusals
As a growing number of U.S. governors said they didn’t want Syrian refugees in their states, President Barack Obama fired back.
“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for (ISIS) than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate,” Obama told reporters. Arguments that there should be a religious test before refugees are admitted, or that only Syrian Christians should be allowed in are “offensive” and “contrary to American values,” he said.
More than two dozen U.S. states have said they oppose accepting any refugees from Syria. The State Department said it is taking the governors’ concerns seriously, but it remains “steadfastly committed” to bringing in 10,000 Syrian refugees next year.
Multiple cell phones recovered
Investigators have recovered multiple cell phones at the scenes of the attacks believed to belong to the attackers, a possible break that could help unravel the plot and the suspected network behind it, counterterrorism and intelligence officials said.
According to the officials, at least one phone contained a message, sent some time before the attacks began, to the effect of: OK, we’re ready.
But cracking into the terrorists’ communication won’t be easy.
Investigators have found encrypted apps on the phones, which appear to have left no trace of messages or any indication of who would have been receiving them, according to officials briefed on the French investigation.
Group: Many ISIS members killed in air strikes
Thirty-three ISIS members have been killed by French and other military airstrikes in the last 72 hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group, said Wednesday.
“Dozens of ISIS leaders and their families” are moving from Raqqa, ISIS’ self-proclaimed capital, in northern Syria, toward the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, Iraq, the Observatory said.
Charlie Hebdo remains defiant
The latest Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine hit newsstands on Wednesday. The cover reads: “They have the weapons. Screw them. We have the champagne!” The magazine’s office was the target of a terror attack in January that left 12 dead.
One soccer game canceled; another goes on
German officials said they haven’t found any explosives or made any arrests at a stadium in Hannover, Germany, which was evacuated just before a friendly match between Germany and the Netherlands Tuesday. Officials canceled the match after police uncovered “serious plans for explosives.”
The France-England soccer friendly kicked off under tight security at Wembley Stadium in London. Players and fans united to sing the French national anthem, followed by a minute of silence.