-- [This report has been updated.]
Fingerprints taken from the remains of a woman killed in a dramatic police raid Wednesday have confirmed her identity as a “cousin” of the purported ringleader of last week’s Paris attacks, as details emerged today about the woman’s troubled history.
French officials said Thursday that a woman had detonated a suicide vest during the police raid at an apartment in the Saint-Denis neighborhood in northern Paris, and early this morning the Paris prosecutor said fingerprints had identified the woman as Hasna Aitboulahcen. Later today, however, the prosecutor said that it did not appear Aitboulahcen was responsible for the suicide blast.
In all, the remains of three bodies were found after the raid: Aitboulahcen, the Paris attacks alleged ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and a third individual who has not been identified. It is not clear who set off the massive blast that was caught on camera during the raid. In another video that emerged Thursday, it’s possible to hear police yelling with a female apparently in the target building before a loud explosion.
Neighbors near the home of Aitboulahcen told ABC News the 26-year-old was friendly, but also a little bit crazy and easily influenced. Formerly deep into alcohol, drugs and sex, Aitboulahcen recently found religion in the radical Islam of ISIS, the acquaintances said. Just a couple months ago one said they had heard Aitboulahcen wanted to go “to Syria to do the jihad.”
Mia Bloom, Professor of Communications at Georgia State University and terrorism expert, told ABC News that Aitboulahcen’s purported pre-radicalization behavior fits with other female extremists she’s studied.
“You know this is really consistent with a lot of women who join the jihadi groups. They live this very licentious lifestyle and then they become a jihadi, they completely reinvent themselves. It's a way of becoming a completely new person,” Bloom said. “There are two kinds of women that ISIS is going after. They go after very young Muslim girls who are straight-A students and very high-achieving, but they also go after much older women who have a past, that by joining the group, they can reinvent themselves and be a good girl now. And they really do over-compensate.”
Bloom said that coincidentally, she and her colleagues recently discovered a jihadi scholar’s document containing the supposed rules for women when women can wear and detonate suicide vests. One of the few instances when it’s permissible: When police are raiding their homes, the document says.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said today the death toll in the original attacks has risen to 130, a week after the tragedy, with many more seriously injured.
Freelance journalist Paul Pradier contributed to this report. Editor's Note: This report has been modified to update Mia Bloom's current place of employment.