#ParisAttacks: Suspected mastermind named
The man has been identified as Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud by French officials.
PARIS - The suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks has reportedly been identified as Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud by French officials.
Abaaoud, who is currently in Syria, is suspected of being behind Friday's attacks in Paris, according to a source close to the French investigation.
"He appears to be the brains behind several planned attacks in Europe," the source told Reuters, adding that Abaaoud was the investigators' best lead as the person likely behind the killing of more than 130 people in Paris on Friday.
According to RTL Radio, Abaaoud is a 27 year-old from the Molenbeek suburb of Brussels, home to other members of the militant Islamist cell that carried out the attacks.
It's been reported that Abaaoud had links to thwarted train and church attacks.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve says police conducted 168 raids overnight and 104 people have been placed under house arrest.
At the same time, French warplanes have pounded Islamic State positions in Syria as police in Europe widened their investigations into coordinated attacks in Paris that killed more than 130 people on Friday night.
French fighter jets get ready to take to the Middle Eastern skies. Picture: AFP
Meanwhile, a South African woman, who has been living in Paris for the past 19 years, says the city has been gripped by fear since the attacks.
Sandra Schmal says the tragedy has affected almost everyone.
"We were all affected on a symbolic level whereas here, everybody can relate to the victims and to the targets because in January they attacked French intellect here; they're attacking the French way of life."
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MJC CONDEMNS ATTACKS
The Muslim Judicial Council has added its voice to a chorus of condemnation against terrorist attacks in France and Lebanon over the last few days.
Last week more than 40 people died in twin blasts in Beirut.
The MJC's Igshaan Hendricks says, "Isis has absolutely no connection to the religion of Islam and Islam is completely innocent. Such acts can never justified in the name of religion and more so in the name of Islam."
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French police raided homes of suspected Islamist militants across the country overnight in the aftermath of the Paris shootings, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said as he warned of potential further attacks.
Valls said that since this summer, French intelligence services had prevented five attacks.
"We know that more attacks are being prepared, not just against France but also against other European countries," Valls said on RTL radio.
Police sources told Reuters that authorities conducted at least 110 house searches in cities around France overnight.
One of these searches, in the Paris suburb of Bobigny, was part of the judicial investigation into the attacks at a football stadium, bars and a concert hall.
French media said police also raided houses in Toulouse, Grenoble and Bobigny.
"We are making use of the legal framework of the state of emergency to question people who are part of the radical jihadist movement...and all those who advocate hate of the republic," Valls said.
At the same time, prosecutors say Belgian police have not arrested Salah Abdel Salam, who is wanted for the Paris attacks.
This is contrary to earlier reports.
A photo of him has been widely circulated, with a massive search being launched.
Police have centred their investigation on the Belgian suburb Molenbeek, where a number of arrests have already been made.
Cazeneuve says their search has been 'extensive'.
"These searches took place in 19 departments in all the major urban centres of France. No territory in the republic has been overlooked with regard to maximum alert where the police forces are working under my authority."
The death toll from Friday's attacks has risen to 132, with 352 people wounded and 99 of them still in a serious condition in hospital.
WATCH: Over 120 killed in Paris terror attacks
MOMENT OF SILENCE
European cities have fallen silent today in memory of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday.
Their governments are also stepping up security after it was confirmed the atrocity was planned in Syria and that one of the attackers was among the many migrants who entered Europe over recent weeks seeking asylum.
While a huge manhunt is under way for surviving members and accomplices of the Islamist group that carried out the attack, there's also the wider fear of further attacks across Europe.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the fight against extremism was the struggle of our generation and warned similar attacks could happen across European cities.
He also announced extra funds for the intelligence agencies as questions remain over how the audacious attack on Paris was planned without the knowledge of the French authorities.
Additional reporting from Reuters.