The Slatest

Three Coordinated Teams Carried Out Paris Attacks

Mourners leave candles in front of the Petit Cambodge restaurant with the Le Carillon restaurant on the background on November 14, 2015 in Paris, France.  

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

*This post has been updated with new information since it was originally published.

Very little is known so far about the seven attackers who unleashed terror in Paris on Friday night, in large part because most of their bodies were “pulverized,” according to France’s BFMTV. Police are carrying out DNA tests that could take two days to complete. Six of the attackers died in suicide explosions while the seventh was killed by police while wearing a suicide vest.

But we are starting to get some hints. The coordinated series of attacks on Paris on Friday night were carried out by three teams of people, Paris prosecutor François Molins, said on Saturday night. The prosecutor increased the death toll from the attacks to 129, and specified there were 99 people still critically injured.

“We have to find out where they came from … and how they were financed,” Molins told reporters. “We can say at this stage of the investigation there were probably three coordinated teams of terrorists behind this barbaric act.”

In one piece of evidence that could end up pushing a dramatic shift in how Europe handles the ongoing refugee crisis, the Syrian passport found next to the body of one of the suicide bombers was registered on the Greek island of Leros. The owner of the passport was a young man who apparently arrived in Leros with a group of 69 refugees, a source tells Reuters. It is so far unclear whether the passport was later checked in other European countries, points out Bloomberg. Some are urging caution with the information, noting there’s no confirmation the person who held the passport was actually an attacker.

An Egyptian passport was also found near the body of another one of the suicide bombers at the Stade de France.

Police were able to identify one attacker who blew himself up inside the Bataclan music venue as a young French man who was known for having ties with Islamic extremism, reports Reuters. The gunman apparently was from the Courcouronnes suburb, which is around 20 miles south of Paris. He was easily identifiable because his details were already in law enforcement databases, reports Europe1. Molins confirmed one of the attackers was a 30-year-old Frenchman who had a criminal record but had not spent any time in jail.  

Belgian media are also reporting that three of the eight suspects involved in the attack lived in Brussels, according to Sky News. Police conducted raids in the suburb of Molenbeek, where the attackers reportedly lived, and arrested three French nationals linked to the Paris attacks. The hints of potential ties to Belgium began cropping up in French media shortly after the attack when officials said they were trying to trace a suspicious car with Belgian plates that was near the Bataclan, where at least 87 people were killed. Molins confirmed on Saturday evening that the arrests came after investigators traced records on one of the vehicles to Belgium.

The BBC hears word that investigators are looking into whether the three men arrested in Belgium were another team of attackers who were able to flee. ISIS said it had sent eight jihadists to carry out the attack “leaving open the possibility that one may still be on the run,” notes the Guardian.

Witnesses have also raised the possibility that there was a woman among the attackers. Witnesses at the Bataclan apparently told police that they saw a woman, although they also said she appeared to have been unarmed, according to Europe1.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the Paris attacks.