French national accused of plotting the Paris attacks has been killed in an air strike, while another notorious French jihadist has been arrested.
Salim Benghalem, an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) operative, was killed in November 2017 in a Syrian regime airstrike, family members told France Info.
According to terror experts, Benghalem was a, if not, the mastermind of the Paris attacks, though it was long assumed the orchestrator was Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian killed after the attacks in Paris.
In 2015, he was sentenced, in absentia, to 15 years behind bars on charges of promoting a jihadist network in Syria. He is also is the subject of an international arrest warrant and included on a US blacklist, where he is described as the Isil’s “executioner.”
He had links with the Kouachi brothers, who carried out the January 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters, and was part of the so-called “Buttes-Chaumont” gang who trained in a Parisian park.
Benghalem is also believed to be linked to Mehdi Nemmouche, the gunman suspected of killing four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels in May 2014.
Benghalem appeared in a video that emerged in January of 2015, which called on French Muslims to carry out terror attacks in France.
He is thought to be the jailor of four French journalists kidnapped by Isil and later released.
It came as the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced they had arrested French jihadist Adrien Guihal, who used the nom-de-guerre Abu Osama al-Fransi, in a special operation on May 19.
He was thought to Guihal was thought to be among the most dangerous members of the large French contingent in the ranks of the terror group.
He used social media to recruit members to Isil and issued threats to his home country.
The SDF statement said Guihal was detained together with his wife, who was not identified.