Belgium seeks Morocco's help to track Paris attacker

AFP , Monday 23 Nov 2015

Abdelhamid Abaaoud
This undated image made available in the Islamic State's English-language magazine Dabiq, shows Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Abated who was identified by French authorities on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, is the presumed mastermind of Paris attacks. (Photo: AP)

Belgium has asked Morocco to share any intelligence it has to help track a key suspect in connection with the Paris attacks, the interior ministry in Rabat said Monday.

A statement said King Philippe made the request in a telephone conversation with Morocco's King Mohamed VI, calling for "close cooperation" in the fields of "intelligence and security".

Morocco's Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad and his Belgian counterpart Jan Jambon later discussed ways of "implementing concretely and immediately this request" which follows a similar one from Paris.

Moroccan intelligence helped put French investigators on the trail of the Belgian jihadist suspected of orchestrating the November 13 terror attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

A Moroccan tip-off, along with other information, helped police track Abdelhamid Abaaoud -- a Belgian of Moroccan descent -- to an apartment block in a northern Paris suburb, where he was killed in a raid last Wednesday.

Belgium has charged four people over the Paris assault, including two on suspicion of helping alleged Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam, a French citizen, with escaping to Brussels after the carnage.

Just over a week later it emerged that Abdeslam's brother Brahim, 31, had blown himself up outside a cafe in Boulevard Voltaire during the Paris attacks.

The capital Brussels has been locked down throughout the weekend and on Monday due to an ongoing terrorism threat.

Schools and the metro have been closed but are due to reopen from Wednesday, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said.

"The crisis centre decided to maintain the alert level four, which means the threat remains serious and imminent," Michel told a news conference.

Belgium is home to a large Moroccan community of about 500,000 people.

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