Who Was The Female Suicide Bomber Killed In The Saint-Denis Raid?
Update: After seven hours, the Saint-Denis police raid ended Wednesday with two suspected terrorists dead, including a woman who died after detonating her suicide vest, according to officials. The Guardian reports the woman was named Hasna Aitboulahcen, a French-Moroccan national. A total of eight people were arrested, three of whom were inside the apartment during the raid. It was not immediately clear whether the target of the raid, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks that killed at least 129 people and wounded more than 350 others, was killed or present during the raid.
Earlier: An early hours police raid in a Paris suburb turned into an explosive siege Wednesday, putting the city on alert once again just days after a deadly series of terrorist assaults. At around 4:30 a.m., French police raided an apartment in Saint-Denis — the same neighborhood home to Stade de France, the location of the first explosions on Friday — a plan that targeted the attacks' suspected mastermind, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. While much is still unconfirmed, including how many suspected terrorists were inside the apartment and subsequently killed and whether Abaaoud was indeed at the apartment, French prosecutors confirmed that three people who were inside were arrested along with another two people who were "nearby." The only death confirmed by officials was a woman who wore a suicide vest and blew herself up.
As of Wednesday morning, the woman's identity was not disclosed by authorities. Officials said the woman opened fire on police using a AK-47 before detonating her vest at the beginning of the raid. The Daily Mail reports the woman may have been Abaaoud's jihadi bride, though that is unconfirmed. It is believed the group inside the Saint-Denis apartment was possibly planning another attack on the city, and officials believe the raid may have thwarted an insidious plot just in time.
ISIS is known to practice sex slavery in its territory and views women as subordinate to men. But there were some reports of ISIS raising all-female suicide squads, though that too was unconfirmed. While it is rare to hear of female suicide bombers, it is not impossible. Sajida al Rishawi is a failed female suicide bomber on death row in Jordan. In 2005, she and four men, including her husband, traveled to Jordan to bomb hotels. The men succeeded in killing 57 and injuring 90, but Rishawi reportedly failed to detonate her bomb.
The police raid in Saint-Denis has yielded stunning findings, from the apartment's proximity to Stade de France and the possibility that Abaaoud was in Paris this entire time. But the news of a female suicide bomber has surprised many and perhaps could be a sign of a newly mobilized force within the terrorist group.