A woman who says she tipped off authorities to the whereabouts of Paris attacks ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud has given chilling details about his plans and complained about inadequate police protection.
The woman was identified only as “Sonia” in her interview, broadcast by France’s RMC radio and BFMTV. Sonia said she was a friend of Hasna Ait Boulahcen, the cousin of Islamist Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
Abaaoud is considered a leading figure in the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.
Her voice altered to hide her identity, Sonia describes how Boulahcen received a call from Belgium, instructing her to pick up someone outside Paris and to call out the code “1010” when she got there. A man emerged from the bushes. It was Abaaoud.
She said Abaaoud acknowledged his involvement in the attacks.
“The cafe terraces was me," he said of the string of shootings outside Paris bars and restaurants.
Abaaoud also outlined plans for future attacks in the area. He said he had entered France without a visa with scores of other foreigners from Syria.
Abaaoud and his cousin were killed during a police shootout a few days later. Sonia says her emergency call to police tipped them off. She also complained about her current police protection, saying she felt abandoned and cut off from friends and family, one of the reasons she reached out to the media.
The Paris prosecutor's office said it is investigating whether broadcasting her interview may have breached secrecy laws. A key lawyer and rights activist, Patrick Baudouin, has criticized France’s witness protection program as inadequate.