PARIS: Omar Ismail Mostefai was known to police as nothing more than a petty criminal before he became the first gunman identified from Friday’s attacks in Paris, which left at least 129 dead.
Identified by his finger, which was found among the rubble of the Bataclan concert hall, the 29-year-old was one of three men who blew himself up, killing 89 people in the bloodiest scene of the carnage.
Born on November 21, 1985, in the poor Paris suburb of Courcouronnes, Mostefai’s criminal record shows eight convictions for petty crimes between 2004 and 2010, but no jail time.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Mostefai had been singled out as a high-priority target for radicalization in 2010 but, before Friday, he had “never been implicated in a terrorist network or plot.”
Investigators are now probing whether he took a trip to Syria last year, according to police sources.
Friday’s attacks, which killed 129 people and wounded 352, including 99 critically, were the worst in Paris’ history.
The killer’s father and 34-year-old brother were placed in custody on Saturday evening and their homes were searched.
“It’s a crazy thing, it’s madness,” his brother said, his voice trembling, before he was taken into custody.
“Yesterday I was in Paris and I saw what a mess it was.”
The brother, one of four boys in the family along with two sisters, turned himself in to police after learning Mostefai was involved in the attacks.
While he had cut ties with Mostefai several years ago, and knew he had been involved in petty crimes, his brother said he had never imagined his brother could be radicalized.
The last he knew, Mostefai had gone to Algeria with his family and his “little girl,” he said, adding, “It’s been a time since I have had any news.”
French police identified the first of seven gunmen from a severed finger found at Bataclan concert hall, scene of the worst of the bloodshed.
IS jihadists said they were behind the gun and suicide attacks that left a trail of destruction at a sold-out concert hall, at restaurants and bars and outside France’s Stade de France national stadium.
President Francois Hollande called the coordinated assault on Friday night an “act of war” as the capital’s normally bustling streets fell eerily quiet, 10 months after attacks on magazine Charlie Hebdo shocked the nation.
Meanwhile, investigation widened across Europe, with Belgian police arresting several suspects and German authorities probing a possible link to a man recently found with a car of explosives.
The discovery of a Syrian passport near the body of one attacker has raised suspicions some of the assailants might have entered Europe as part of an influx of people fleeing Syria’s civil war.
“We confirm that the [Syrian] passport holder came through the Greek island of Leros on October 3, where he was registered under EU [European Union] rules,” said the Greek minister for citizen protection, Nikos Toskas.
The attacks were the first-ever suicide bombings on French soil. Unlike those in January, none of the assailants had ever been jailed for terror offenses.
A total of 89 people were killed at the Bataclan by the armed men who burst in shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) before gunning down concert-goers and executing hostages.
The jihadists were heard raging at the French president and his decision in September to join US-led air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria.
As police stormed the venue, two of the gunmen blew themselves up, while the third was shot by police.
Three suicide bombers also detonated their explosives outside the Stade de France stadium where France was playing Germany in a football friendly attended by Hollande, who was evacuated.