Manhunt Underway for Second Fugitive Directly Involved in Paris Attacks

Seven arrests made in western Germany aren't directly linked to Paris attacks; German police say Germany vs. Netherlands friendly soccer match called off after bomb threat.

French police conduct an identity and vehicle check at the Place de la Republique in Paris, France, November 17, 2015.
Reuters

French officials said on Tuesday that they are seeking a second fugitive directly involved in Friday's attacks in Paris that claimed 129 lives.

According to a judicial source, video footage helped French investigators determine that there were three men in a car used for the shootings at bars and restaurants in Paris on Friday - Salah Abdeslam, who is being sought by police, his brother Brahim who blew himself up at the scene, and third man, whom they have yet to identify. 

"He is therefore being sought," a second source close to the investigation said. 

Seven attackers died that night — three around the national stadium, three inside the Bataclan concert venue, and one at a restaurant nearby. A team of gunmen also opened fire at a series of nightspots in one of Paris' trendiest neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, seven people arrested by police in western Germany on Tuesday do not appear to be directly linked to the militant attacks in Paris, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, adding that at least one of the attackers was still on the run. "It remains the case that at least one perpetrator is on the run," de Maiziere told a news conference in Berlin.

A camerman films outside the JobCenter in Alsdorf near Aachen, western Germany were three arrests were made on Novermber 17, 2105.

Turning to the arrests made near the western German city of Aachen in Alsdorf on Tuesday, he added: "The assessment is not yet completed. But as things stand now, it does not appear to be the case that this is directly related to the attacks in Paris."  Earlier Tuesday, Police in Aachen made the arrests following a lead, in an operation ostensibly linked to Friday's attacks, which were claimed by ISIS. All seven were to be released, German news agency DPA reported, citing a police spokesman.

Also on Sunday, police in Hannover said the friendly between Germany and the Netherlands has been canceled, an hour and a half before kickoff.

Members of the German government including Chancellor Angela Merkel had been scheduled to attend the match to send a signal that Germany wouldn't bow to terrorism in the wake of the Paris attacks.

No reason was immediately given for the cancellation, but there had been a bomb threat about an hour earlier outside the stadium. Earlier on Tuesday, a match between Belgium and Spain in Brussels was canceled following intelligence of a possible terror attack. 

Manhunt in France and Belgium

Meanwhile, a manhunt in France and Belgium for Belgian-born Frenchman Salah Abdeslam, one of the eight attackers involved in the deadly shooting and bomb attacks on restaurants, a music hall and a sports stadium in Paris on Friday evening.

European search efforts are focusing on Abdeslam, in his twenties, who investigators say escaped back to Belgium on Saturday after the attacks. His brother was among the Paris assailants who died. Austria's interior ministry said earlier Abdesalem had entered the country from Germany in early September, telling authorities he was on holiday.

He was dropped off on Saturday in Brussels by two men who picked him up in Paris, the Belga news agency quoted judicial sources as saying. The two men, 27-year-old Mohammed Amri and 21-year-old Hamza Attouh, have been arrested in Belgium on terrorism charges. Abdeslam called Amri on Friday night asking to be picked up, Amri's lawyer told Belga. The Paris attacks were not discussed during the trip and Amri and Attouh did not see any weapons, the lawyer said.

Voice identified

Meanwhile, the voice of a jihadist claiming Islamic State's responsibility for the attacks has been identified as a 36 year-old Frenchmen authorities believe is now in Syria, a source close to the investigation said.

Special intervention forces climb to the top of a roof, preparing to enter a house in Brussels on November 16, 2015.
AP

The man, Fabien Clain from Toulouse, reads out a pre-written statement already published earlier this week claiming the fatal attacks.

Half of the six-minute audio includes a man giving a rallying cry with music in the background calling for Muslims to "move forward" to fight the infidels "without ever capitulating," according to the audio sent to Reuters.

Daily newspaper Le Monde, citing sources, said Clain was suspected of orchestrating a foiled attack on at least one French church in April and said he was a close friend of Al-Qaida inspired gunman Mohammed Merah, who killed seven people in the March 2012 attacks on a Jewish day school in Toulouse.

It added that he was sentenced to five years in prison in 2009 for having led a recruitment network to send jihadis to Iraq and left France after his release.

France and Russia stage air strikes

Meanwhile, France and Russia both staged air strikes on Islamic State targets in northern Syria on Tuesday as Paris formally requested European Union assistance in its fight against the group behind the carnage in Paris.

Also Tuesday, police in Paris recovered a black Renault Clio car that was rented by Abdeslam, Belgian and French media reported. Police searches were also carried out at an apartment and two hotel rooms in the Paris suburbs amid suspicions that they were used by the attackers, according to French media.

Neighboring France and Belgium are on high alert, with Belgium on Tuesday announcing that it was deploying up to 300 additional soldiers on its territory to help guard sensitive locations.

France could face another terrorist attack "at any time," Prime Minister Manuel Valls also told the France Inter broadcaster on Tuesday.

His Socialist government has pledged to raise spending on national security, increase airstrikes against Islamist strongholds in Syria, and adopt a national security package in response to the deadliest attack the nation has faced since World War II.

French President Francois Hollande announced the measures in a rare address to both house of parliament on Monday, in which he also said the constitution needed to be revised in the face of terrorist threats.

New legislation - expected to propose quicker deportation for suspect foreigners and the possibility to strip double passport holders convicted of terrorism of their French nationality - is going to be presented to parliament on Thursday, Valls said.

"In order to safeguard the security of French people, sometimes a certain number of our liberties have to be curtailed," the prime minister warned.

French President Francois Hollande stands outside at the Elysee Palace, in Paris. November 17, 2015.
AP

Earlier, France's interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, told another broadcaster, France Info, that 128 houses had been searched overnight as part of anti-terrorism efforts. His aides told AFP that 10 people were taken in for questioning following the raids.

Cazeneuve said a total of 115,000 policemen and soldiers had been mobilized following the November 13 multi-pronged attacks on Paris, which the Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for.

"We don't have yet a global picture of the number of people involved" in the attacks, Valls said.

France has urged greater efforts from EU partners and the rest of the international community against the Islamic State group.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Hollande at the Elysee palace and pledged closer U.S. cooperation, after saying upon arriving in Paris on Monday night that the terrorist group and all who share its "despicable ideology" would be defeated.

Mutual defense clause

In response to the attacks, France has also for the first time ever invoked the European Union's mutual defense clause, which states that EU countries have "an obligation of aid and assistance" if a member state is "the victim of armed aggression on its territory."

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that his country expects assistance from other EU countries for military operations it is carrying out in Syria and elsewhere.

"France can no longer do everything - be at the same in the Sahel, the Central African Republic, Lebanon, be in the counterattack operation in the Levant and on top of that ensure with our own forces the security of the national territory," Le Drian said in Brussels.