ISIS wanted to strike in Britain and Germany on the same day they killed 132 people in Paris

  • Paris ringleaders known to have visited the UK from Syria last summer
  • But UK bomb attack was scrapped because of problems getting explosives
  • US intelligence chief James Clapper says ISIS has sleeper cells in the UK 

The ISIS cell who killed 132 in Paris last year were planning simultaneous plots in Britain and Germany on the same day, it was claimed today.

Ringleaders Abdelhamid Abaaoud and Mohamed Abrini were in Birmingham and London in the months before the November attacks.

The pair are believed to have been to the UK at least five times between them to groom recruits – but a plan to attack Britain at the same time as Paris was eventually scrapped.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, pictured, and Mohamed Abrini both visited the UK and had planned to launch a simultaneous attack here and in Germany when they killed 132 in France last year Abdelhamid Abaaoud and Mohamed Abrini, pictured, both visited the UK and had planned to launch a simultaneous attack here and in Germany when they killed 132 in France last year
Security: Experts claim ISIS has underground cells, similar to those that carried out the Paris (pictured) and Brussels attacks, across Europe, including in the UK

A security source told The Sun: ‘Crucially the cell found it difficult to amass explosives and place a trusted bombmaker in the UK.’

US intelligence chief James Clapper warned last week said the European Union’s free movement of people was putting security at risk.

He said agencies had seen evidence of IS jihadists plotting to carry out massacres like those in Brussels and Paris – but in the UK, Germany and Italy.

He warned that some extremists had taken advantage of the migrant crisis to slip into Europe and called for better intelligence-sharing between EU member states.

He said: ‘On the one hand there is the European Union’s incentives and drives to promote openness and free movement of people and goods and privacy, which is in some ways in conflict with the responsibility each country has as a nation state to protect the security of its border and its people.’

Asked whether the UK, Germany and Italy had sleeper cells similar to the ones which carried out terror attacks in Brussels and Paris, he said: ‘Yes, they do.

Mohamed Abrini is known to have spent at least here last summer after he flew to London from Syria via Istanbul.

Abrini was later arrested by Belgian police 18 days after the Brussels bombings on March 22 which killed 32 people and wounded 270 others at the airport and in the city’s subway.

The Belgian-Moroccan petty criminal has admitted to being the ‘man in the hat’ and has told police that he threw away his suicide vest in a bin and sold his hat after the bombings, according to Belgian prosecutors.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was also in Birmingham and London in the months before the November attacks.

Bombing: Abrini is said to be the 'man in the hat' caught on CCTV at Brussels Airport before the bombings, right, but also appeared to be helping run ISIS operations in Europe

Abaaoud, 28, also of Moroccan origin, was killed in a French police raid a week after the Paris attacks.

He was known to have visited Birmingham in October and had photos of places in the city on his smartphone, including shopping centres and football stadiums, raising concern he may have been visiting jihadis, carrying out reconnaissance on targets – or both.

West Midlands Police said in December that they were taking links between the Paris attackers and Birmingham ‘deadly seriously’ after the photos emerged.

Abrini is a childhood friend of Salah Abdeslam, 26, who also escaped after the Paris killings but was captured in Brussels days before the attacks on the city’s airport and metro.

Abrini is also accused of having accompanied two suicide bombers to Brussels airport before leaving behind a bomb in a bag and walking back into the city.

He has told investigators that Abdeslam’s arrest on March 18 in Brussels prompted the conspirators to move forward plans for the follow-up attack, which came four days later in the city and killed 32.

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