The Paris and Brussels plotter who got away

Investigators say the trail has gone cold and Oussama Atar is now probably in Iraq or Syria.

There was a moment last summer when Belgian investigators believed they were about to nab the coordinator of the 2015 and 2016 terror attacks in Paris and Brussels.

In August, Belgian Special Forces and Brussels police conducted eight house searches across the Belgian capital. Their target: a 32-year-old Belgian-Moroccan named Oussama Atar, who investigators believe directed the deadly bombings from the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa in Syria.

“We knew he was back,” said a senior Belgian law enforcement official. “Everyone in Molenbeek had been talking about it for over two weeks,” he added, referring to the Brussels neighborhood that was home to many of those behind the Paris and Brussels attacks. “But we missed him.”