PARIS (AP) — Fabien Clain was the voice of Islamic State for his home country of France — and above all for its capital city, terrorized by squads of extremists who blew themselves up outside the national stadium, and opened fire on concert-goers and cafe diners in November 2015.
In a recording released the day after those Paris attacks, it was Clain who announced to France that the Islamic State group was responsible for the worst terrorist violence in France’s modern history.
Clain, one of Europe’s most-wanted members of the extremist group, was killed in a strike by the U.S.-led military coalition in Syria, the coalition announced Thursday in a tweet. Coalition spokesman Col. Sean Ryan said the strike on Baghouz occurred Feb. 20, but released no further information on how Clain was killed or how his remains were identified.
French authorities did not comment on the coalition announcement, but had said last week they were verifying reports of Clain’s death.
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Born in the southern French city of Toulouse in 1978 and raised in Normandy, Clain converted from Catholicism in his early 20s, persuading his future wife, his younger brother Jean-Michel, his half-sister and his mother to join him in his new religion.
In 2009, Fabien Clain was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in a network that sent recruits to fight with jihadis in Iraq. Five years later, he is believed to have left for Syria with his extended family to join the Islamic State group.
But first, he had an errand to run.
As France was convulsed by the January 2015 attacks against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, a clerk at a hi-fi store in the south of France said Fabien Clain came in to buy more than 3,500 euros worth of studio recording equipment. According to the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche, he requested that it be easily “transportable.” He is believed to have taken off for Syria soon afterward.
All trace of his family was lost until Nov. 14, 2015, the day after the deadly attacks in Paris, when Clain’s voice floated across French media from Syria.
“Eight brothers with explosive belts and assault rifles targeted places chosen with the greatest care ahead of time in the heart of the French capital,” he said. His brother Jean-Michel’s voice sang an Islamic nasheed in the background.
Fabien Clain was now “the voice of Daesh” for the country he, his brother and their families left behind. Interpol has kept him on its most-wanted list ever since.
Most recently, on Dec. 28, Clain’s voice was heard again, in a diatribe addressed to France’s yellow vest protesters, calling on them to turn against their government, “which spends your money indiscriminately.” Especially, he noted, on wars.
Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.