The mastermind behind the Paris terror attacks had photographs of UK targets on his mobile phone, it has been revealed. Investigators found images of major venues in Birmingham on Abdelhamid Abaaoud's smartphone.
The jihadist was killed in a police shootout in the St Denis suburb of Paris after coordinating a wave of attacks in the French capital on November 13 that left 130 people dead. The reports that Abaooud had been making regular calls to the UK and scouting for targets, raises fears of the chilling possibility that Islamic State terrorists were planning to carry out atrocities in Britain.
While the content of the photos has not been disclosed, an unidentified source claims that the images may have been taken by Abaaoud himself, prompting questions as to how he was able to enter the UK when he was already the subject of an international manhunt.
According to the Mail Online an unnamed source said: "If you get these kinds of [phone-call] links, and if you get photos, it leaves you to a pretty inevitable conclusion...it does point to a certain direction, does it not? great deal of discussion has gone on at a European level in tightening up intelligence-sharing.
"There remains a series of questions over how effective it is, and in light of what is happening in Europe now, it needs to be tightened up further. You are quite right in asking how someone who was at the heart of a terrorist investigation was able to move as relatively easily as he did."
After his death, details emerged suggesting that Abaaoud was in regular contact with a 'network of associates' in the Midlands in the weeks before the Paris strikes, including several Moroccans living in the Bordesley Green and Alum Rock areas of the city. He was also linked to four foiled plots to carry out terror attacks this year.
West Midlands Police have said they are taking reports of links between Islamic State extremists and Birmingham 'deadly seriously'. Members of the public have been warned to be vigilant in the face of potential attacks, but the police have also dismissed as 'unhelpful', rumours circulating on the internet that Birmingham was being targeted in an imminent terrorist attack at the weekend.
Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said in a statement: "The West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit is working hand-in-hand with colleagues in London, the national counter-terrorism network and security services to provide support to the French and Belgian investigations, and, of course, to address any associated terrorism threat to the UK."