Iraqi intelligence warned coalition countries that ISIS had ordered attacks in western cities just one day before the deadly atrocities in Paris on Friday that killed more than 130 people.
The Associated Press reports Iraqi intelligence warned that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS (also known as ISIL or Islamic State) called for attacks on coalition countries “through bombings or assassinations or hostage-taking in the coming days”.
The report also says the attacks were carried out by terrorists trained in Syria who later connected with a Paris-based sleeper cell.
The AP says the information was shared in a dispatch from Iraqi intelligence and that it was corroborated with six senior Iraqi officials.
Warnings such as this are somewhat commonplace in the current environment as ISIS leaders and others regularly issue public calls for attacks on western interests. French intelligence said that these kind of warnings are received “every day”, according to the report.
Intelligence experts have said in recent days that the sophistication of the attacks suggested highly-trained individuals possibly trained in Iraq and Syria. The attackers used guns and bombs in multiple attacks across Paris, including random shootings at cafes, bombings at the Stade de France, and a mass shooting at the Bataclan theatre which left 100 people dead.
The AP says the attackers were trained for the operation in Syria and that Paris was the intended target.
On top of those confirmed killed, more than 300 were injured, around 100 of them seriously.
On Saturday, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks which were carried out at multiple locations across Paris on Friday night. The statement referred to Paris as “the capital of prostitution and vice” and ISIS said “all nations following in its path” were “at the top of the target list for the Islamic State.”
France started airstrikes against ISIS positions in Syria in September. Australia also began participating in airstrikes at that time.
French President Francois Hollande on Saturday described the attacks as “an act of war” by ISIS.
Seven of the attackers blew themselves up in the attacks, according to French authorities. There is now a manhunt underway for an eighth suspect, 29-year-old Belgium-born Salah Abdeslam. He is reportedly a French national.
The involvement of terrorists trained in the main ISIS theatre in such sophisticated attacks is a concern for western nations, as it shows an unprecedented level of organisational skill and attack capability.
Rodger Shanahan, Associate Professor at the Australian National University’s National Security College and a Lowy Institute Research Fellow, told Business Insider over the weekend that if it did emerge that the attackers were trained in the Middle East, “then there could be other groups out there”.
“It shows we’re not dealing with amateurs,” Shanahan said.
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