Suspected 'mastermind' of Paris attacks identified as Belgian believed in Syria

A Belgian jihadist believed to be fighting alongside ISIS in Syria has been identified by investigators as the suspected mastermind behind Friday's attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people.

A French official told the Associated Press that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 27-year-old from the Molenbeek suburb of Brussels, was also believed to have ties to to the thwarted attack on a Paris-bound high-speed train this past August, as well as a failed plot to attack a Paris-area church.

Two small explosions were heard during a major police action in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek amid a manhunt for a suspect in the Paris attacks. Dozens of masked and heavily armed security officials had sealed off the area and neighbors were told to stay out of harm's way.

Police refused to provide any details about who may have set off the explosions or the purpose for them.

Two hours into the siege a first explosion was heard and a similar followed it one hour later on a higher floor of a building with special security forces close by on roofs.

Police arrested three suspects in the impoverished Brussels neighborhood on Saturday and continued house searches. The special action began early Monday.

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