Woman who led cops to Paris mastermind: 'It’s important the world knows that I am Muslim.'
Warning: contains graphic descriptions of suicide bombings.
On the night of Nov. 18, 2015, Abdelhamid Abaaoud blew himself up in an apartment outside Paris.
The man — who just days before had helped mastermind the deadly shootings that killed 130 in Paris, and was reportedly planning more attacks — died by his own hand as police surrounded his hideout.
For months, a big piece of the story was missing: Who told the cops where to find Abaaoud?
It turns out, they were tipped off by a woman who, according to a Washington Post report, only came forward to the press in order to send a message about her faith.
"It’s important the world knows that I am Muslim myself," the woman who tipped off the police told the Post.
"It’s important to me that people know what Abaaoud and the others did is not what Islam is teaching," she said.
The woman took an enormous risk by talking to the police and the press.
The woman, who asked police and the Post to withhold her identity for her safety, was led to Abaaoud by Hasna Ait Boulahcen, a woman she considered her surrogate daughter.
Ait Boulahcen had held a romantic attachment to Abaaoud — her cousin — for several years, according to the woman, and she brought the woman along to a meeting with the militant, who instructed her to help him find a place to hide.
After the meeting, Abaaoud and his associates threatened to kill the unidentified woman and her husband if they talked. She still fears retaliation, even months after his death.
Coming forward also cost her. Dearly.
Ait Boulahcen, who the woman repeatedly attempted to dissuade from associating with Abaaoud, was in the apartment with him when it was raided and was killed in the explosion.
After nearly every act of terrorist violence, one question always seems to come up: "Where are all the Muslims speaking out against these attacks?"
It's a loaded question — one that asks all of the millions of Muslims around the world to prove, instead of simply presuming, their innocence.
It's a question that implies they're not doing enough to prevent terrorism.
It's a question that places an unfair burden on millions of people to answer for the actions of a small extremist minority and just a short step away from asking, "Who's side are Muslims really on?"
Now, at least as far as the attacks in Paris are concerned, we have an answer.
Where are all the Muslims?
Some are busy risking their lives — and the lives of those they care about — to help prevent more attacks from happening.