Suicide Bomber Killed in Paris Raid Identified as Alleged Ringleader’s Cousin

Officials: Hasna Ait Boulahcen was cousin of alleged Paris ringleader.

ByABC News
November 19, 2015, 4:06 PM

— -- French authorities have identified the woman who blew herself up with a suicide bomb during a police raid in Paris Wednesday as Hasna Ait Boulahcen, a cousin of the Paris attacks purported ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud, according to two senior French officials.

[Editor's Note: The Paris prosecutor released updated information on Aitboulahcen on Nov. 20, saying she was not believed to be the suicide bomber. See the updated report HERE.

Abaaoud was also killed in the dramatic raid in the neighborhood of Saint-Denis north of Paris' city center. French authorities said that nearly 5,000 bullets were fired in the raid and that police were temporarily stymied by a reinforced door that blocked their entry to an apartment holding the perpetrators. Speaking to Le Parisien, the head of France's elite police unit RAID said the delay cost them the element of surprise and the operation turned into a lengthy firefight against "real professionals."

It didn't end for about an hour, when a woman, now identified as Boulahcen, apparently blew herself up nearly taking down part of the building, officials said.

Today authorities confirmed Abaaoud was among the dead, ending one of multiple urgent manhunts. French authorities identified Abaaoud as the ringleader of the killers who attacked six separate Paris locations last Friday, taking more than 120 lives. Abaaoud is believed to have been involved in at least four other terror plots and was almost arrested in January, but managed to escape to Syria.

Boulahcen’s mother and brother were seen being led out of their apartment in Paris by police today, neither handcuffed.

A group of neighbors who were acquainted with Boulahcen told ABC News she was a friendly girl, but they thought she was a little bit crazy and perhaps lost. She was defiant, but also easily influenced, they said. The friends claim she was a drinker and used drugs, but later apparently became “radicalized.”

In August, one of the people, Karim, was told by a friend that Boulahcen had said she was “going to Syria to do the jihad.”

Karim said he last saw Boulahcen three weeks ago.

Mia Bloom, Professor of Communications at Georgia State University and terrorism expert, told ABC News that Boulahcen’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.”

Coincidentally for how Boulahcen met her end, Bloom said she and her colleagues discovered a jihadi document in October that explained when women were allowed to be used as suicide bombers. One of the only times, the document said, was in the case of a raid on their home.

ABC News' Lee Ferran and Brian Epstein contributed to this report. Freelance journalist Paul Pradier also contributed to this report. Editor's Note: This report has been modified to update Mia Bloom's current place of employment.