Bus driver who turned Paris attacker skipped police watch

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Police Speak of Horror Inside Bataclan

One of the attackers who blew himself up in Paris's Bataclan concert hall had missed at least three weekly check-ins with French police who were investigating him on suspicion of terrorism-related activity.

By the time an international arrest warrant went out in 2013, Samy Amimour was likely already in Syria. And by the time a trial date was set nearly two years later, he may have been well on his way to planning Friday's attacks.

SEE ALSO: Recovery just beginning for many of Paris wounded

As police investigate the attacks that killed 129 people, the revelation that at least one perpetrator slipped through the hands of authorities has exposed what some describe as flaws in France's procedures to track militant suspects, in particular the system of "judicial supervision".

The one-time bus driver, described by those who knew him as a quiet young man, vanished in September 2013 when he was under judicial supervision, telling his father he was headed to the south of France.

A week later, even though his passport had been impounded, he was on the Turkey-Syria border.

According to an Italian police source, an international warrant for his arrest was not issued until October 20, 2013.

"Investigators will determine whether there was a failure," said Sebastien Pietrasanta, a Socialist lawmaker and specialist in anti-terror issues. "But a man who slips off the radar when it comes to terrorism matters, that is unacceptable."

Under the system, suspects in anti-terror cases who are deemed not dangerous enough or at risk of fleeing to be remanded into custody while under investigation are usually brought under police controls, in which they must give up their passports and come in for regular check-ins.

"Judges are always asking themselves" whether judicial supervision is adequate to keep track of suspects, Virginie Duval, head of France's main magistrates union, told Reuters.

"But we can't just put everybody in custody."

Suspects in the Paris attacks:

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Suspects in the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Salah Abdeslam, Ahmad Almohammad
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Bus driver who turned Paris attacker skipped police watch
This undated image made available in the Islamic State's English-language magazine Dabiq, shows Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Abaaoud the Belgian jihadi suspected of masterminding deadly attacks in Paris was killed in a police raid on a suburban apartment building, the city prosecutor's office announced Thursday Nov. 1, 2015. Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins' office said 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud was identified based on skin samples. His body was found in the apartment building targeted in the chaotic and bloody raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on Wednesday. (Militant photo via AP)
This undated image made available in the Islamic State's English-language magazine Dabiq, shows Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Abaaoud, the child of Moroccan immigrants who grew up in the Belgian capital’s Molenbeek-Saint-Jean neighborhood, was identified by French authorities on Monday Nov. 16, 2015, as the presumed mastermind of the terror attacks last Friday in Paris that killed over a hundred people and injured hundreds more. (Militant Photo via AP)
This undated image taken from a Militant Website on Monday Nov. 16, 2015 showing Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud. A French official says Abdelhamid Abaaoud is the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks was also linked to thwarted train and church attacks. (Militant video via AP)
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, suspected mastermind of the #ParisAttacks was "interviewed" in #ISIS's Dabiq magazine https://t.co/wSKmztFfn5
BREAKING: Third Bataclan attacker identified as Foued Mohamed-Aggad https://t.co/FYwEykV9Kp https://t.co/7g6vH7gvwH
This undated photo released late Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, by Greece's migration policy ministry shows a registration photo from a document issued to 25-year old Ahmad Almohammad, holder of a Syrian passport found near a dead assailant in the scene of a Paris attack Friday. The document was issued on Sunday, Oct. 4 by authorities on the Greek island of Leros, where the man arrived a day earlier on a frail boat carrying migrants over from Turkey. It protects him from deportation for six months, and is the same documentation routinely issued to thousands of newly-arrived migrants. (Greek Migration Ministry via AP)
This undated photo released late Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, by Greece's migration policy ministry shows a document issued to 25-year old Ahmad Almohammad, holder of a Syrian passport found near a dead assailant in the scene of a Paris attack Friday. The document was issued on Sunday, Oct. 4 by authorities on the Greek island of Leros, where the man arrived a day earlier on a frail boat carrying migrants over from Turkey. It protects him from deportation for six months, and is the same documentation routinely issued to thousands of newly-arrived migrants. On the right is a copy of his fingerprints, taken on Saturday, Oct. 3. (Greek Migration Policy Ministry via AP)

This undated file photo provided by French Police shows 26-year old Salah Abdeslam, who is wanted by police in connection with recent terror attacks in Paris, as police investigations continue Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. French police released the wanted notice and photo of the suspect on the run since the attacks in Paris on Friday. The notice, released on the France National Police Twitter account, says anyone seeing Salah Abdeslam, should consider him dangerous. (Police Nationale via AP)

This undated file photo released Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, by French Police shows 26-year old Salah Abdeslam, who is wanted by police in connection with recent terror attacks in Paris, as police investigations continue. The notice, released on the national police Twitter account, says anyone seeing Salah Abdeslam, should consider him dangerous and call authorities immediately. The notice reads in French: "Call for witnesses - Police are hunting a suspect : Salah Abdeslam, born on Sept. 15, 1989 Brussels, Belgium. ...Dangerous individual don't intervene yourself". (Police Nationale via AP)
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SHYNESS MADE HIM PREY?

Those who knew the 28-year-old in Drancy, the suburb northeast of Paris where he grew up, said Amimour's personality changed four years ago when he started attending a mosque in the nearby suburb of Blanc Mesnil, although the Muslim Cultural Association there has denied he was a regular worshipper.

"He was well brought up. He wasn't a delinquent," said Drancy's centrist mayor Jean-Christophe Lagarde, who knew the family long before the attacks.

"No doubt his shyness made him prey for those who wanted to brainwash him," Lagarde said. "He got radicalized, he quit his job, he closed up, cut himself off from his parents."

SEE ALSO: Stories of those who died in the Paris attacks

Born on Oct. 15, 1987, Amimour grew up with his parents and two sisters in a household that was not strictly religious in a five-floor apartment block, the back of which overlooks a mural of the iconic flag-waving Marianne, symbol of the French republic.

"He went to school with my daughters. He would play downstairs with the children.... He was kind, sociable, smiling," said an elderly neighbor, declining to be named.

"He just changed completely ... He stopped shaking women's hands, when he greeted my daughters he would no longer kiss them on the cheek," he said. The last time the neighbor saw him, Amimour had shaved his head and was wearing a traditional robe.

Like most of the area's youth, Amimour went to the local college, or secondary school, where he got good grades and did well in his final baccalaureate exam.

"He was calm, he did not want to draw any attention to himself," said a 20-year-old delivery driver who lives above Amimour's flat and gave his name only as Bertrand. "He should have gone on to do better things than us."

His only known employment was as a suburban bus driver, a job that public transport authorities said he left in October 2012 after 15 months.

It was not clear under what circumstances he left the job. What is known is that in the same month, Amimour was detained along with two other men from Drancy over suspicions they planned to go fight in Yemen.

The three were released, but an official case was opened and they were placed under judicial supervision.

'Prosthetic Leg Fooled Bataclan Gunman'

THOSE TRUSTED VANISH

Such measures are not rare: there are now 95 people in France under judicial supervision suspected of wanting to join the ranks of militants in Iraq and Syria. Another 139, considered more dangerous or more likely to flee, are being held in custody, according to a judicial official.

Officials have acknowledged that they sometimes lose track of suspects freed under judicial supervision.

In May, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told Reuters several people who had been "trusted" enough to be placed under judicial supervision had "disappeared".

For example, two men thought to be linked to a cell suspected of being behind a 2012 attack on a Paris Jewish deli have been missing for months after being freed under judicial supervision, legal sources said. The family of one told police they suspected he had gone to Syria.

A defense lawyer familiar with anti-terrorism cases said a decision to avoid custody in such cases would not have been taken lightly.

"It is a huge feat every time we get one," the lawyer, who declined to be named, said.

In the case of Amimour, judges ordered him to give up his passport and report weekly at Drancy police station while the case was being investigated, which he did for nearly a year, a judicial source said.

Two years after he stopped reporting to police, judges decided in August he and the two other men would be tried in absentia next January for criminal conspiracy in relation to terrorism over their planned Yemen trip, a judicial official told Reuters.

The trial of the other two, who are suspected to have fled to Syria, will go ahead.

Several magistrates told Reuters administrative procedures -- from noting absences to issuing a warrant -- would have taken time.

"Police stations are swamped," said Duval, the magistrate.

See memorials and reactions in the aftermath of the attacks:

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Paris terror attack memorials, aftermath, world reaction
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Bus driver who turned Paris attacker skipped police watch
A building is decorated with French flags in Paris, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. French President Francois Hollande called on his compatriots to hang French tricolor flags on Friday to pay homage to the 130 victims of the Nov. 13 attacks, an unusual appeal by a Socialist leader in a country where flag-waving is often associated with nationalists and the far right. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French President Francois Hollande, center, attends a ceremony to honor the 130 victims killed in the Nov. 13 attacks in the courtyard of the Invalides in Paris, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. A subdued France paid homage Friday to those killed two weeks ago in the attacks that gripped Paris in fear and mourning. (Philippe Wojazer/Pool Photo via AP)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 27: President of France Francois Hollande attends The National Tribute to The Victims of The Paris Terrorist Attacks at Les Invalides on November 27, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Wounded people in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks take part to a ceremony in the courtyard of the Invalides in Paris, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. France is mourning and honoring those killed in the Nov. 13 attacks in a somber ceremony presided by French President Francois Hollande. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A man displays the French flag in front of the Bataclan concert hall, which was a site of last Friday's attacks, in Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. France is demanding security aid and assistance from the European Union in the wake of the Paris attacks and has triggered a never-before-used article in the EU's treaties to secure it. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A woman prays as they pay their respect in front of a floral tribute near the Bataclan concert hall after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. France is urging its European partners to move swiftly to boost intelligence sharing, fight arms trafficking and terror financing, and strengthen border security in the wake of the Paris attacks. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
Two mourners kiss outside the Bataclan concert hall, which was a site of last Friday's attacks, adorned with a banner reading "Freedom is a monument which can not be destroyed", in Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. France is demanding security aid and assistance from the European Union in the wake of the Paris attacks and has triggered a never-before-used article in the EU's treaties to secure it. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
People watch the illuminated Eiffel Tower in the French national colors red, white and blue in honor of the victims of the terrorist attacks last Friday in Paris, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. France is urging its European partners to move swiftly to boost intelligence sharing, fight arms trafficking and terror financing, and strengthen border security in the wake of the Paris attacks. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
People react, in front of the restaurant Le Carillon, one of the establishments targeted in Friday's gun and bomb attacks, in Paris, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. French police raided more than 150 locations overnight as authorities released the names of two more potential suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacksâ one born in Syria, the other a Frenchman wanted as part of a terrorism investigation. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Hands of participants cast a shadow as Indian youth try to stretch a huge banner before beginning a silent rally to protest against Friday's Paris attacks, in Kolkata, India, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left more than one hundred dead and many more injured. (AP Photo/ Bikas Das)
French President Francois Hollande observes a minute of silence before delivering a speech at the Versailles castle, west of Paris, Monday, Nov.16, 2015. French President Francois Hollande addressed parliament about France's response to the Paris attacks, in a rare speech to lawmakers gathered in the majestic congress room of the Palace of Versailles. (Philippe Wojazer, Pool via AP)
French President Francois Hollande arrives to deliver a speech at the Versailles castle, west of Paris, Monday, Nov.16, 2015. French President Francois Hollande is addressing parliament about France's response to the Paris attacks, in a rare speech to lawmakers gathered in the majestic congress room of the Palace of Versailles. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A woman carrying flowers cries in front of the Carillon cafe and the Petit Cambodge restaurant in Paris Saturday Nov. 14, 2015, a day after over 120 people were killed in a series of attacks in Paris. French President Francois Hollande said at least 127 people died Friday night when at least eight attackers launched gun attacks at Paris cafes, detonated suicide bombs near France's national stadium and killed hostages inside a concert hall during a rock show. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
People lay flowers and candles in front of the restaurant Le Carillon, one of the establishments targeted in Friday's gun and bomb attacks, in Paris, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. French police raided more than 150 locations overnight as authorities released the names of two more potential suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacksâ one born in Syria, the other a Frenchman wanted as part of a terrorism investigation. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
People react, in front of the restaurant Le Carillon, one of the establishments targeted in Friday's gun and bomb attacks, in Paris, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. French police raided more than 150 locations overnight as authorities released the names of two more potential suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacksâ one born in Syria, the other a Frenchman wanted as part of a terrorism investigation. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Flowers are put in a window shattered by a bullet as a forensic marker sits next to the impact as people pay their respect to the victims at the site of the attacks on restaurant Le Petit Cambodge (Little Cambodia) and the Carillon Hotel on the first of three days of national mourning in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Thousands of French troops deployed around Paris on Sunday and tourist sites stood shuttered in one of the most visited cities on Earth while investigators questioned the relatives of a suspected suicide bomber involved in the country's deadliest violence since World War II. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 15: People gather and sing songs at Place de la Republique on November 15, 2015 in Paris, France. As France observes three days of national mourning members of the public continue to pay tribute to the victims of Friday's deadly attacks. A special service for the families of the victims and survivors is to be held at Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Women comfort each other as they stand in front of the Carillon cafe, in Paris, Saturday, Nov.14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack Islamic State without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks inflicted on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 15: Members of the public gather to lay flowers and light candles at La Belle Equipe restaraunt on Rue de Charonne following Fridays terrorist attack on November 15, 2015 in Paris, France. As France observes three days of national mourning members of the public continue to pay tribute to the victims of Friday's deadly attacks. A special service for the families of the victims and survivors is to be held at Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral later on Sunday. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 14: People finish arranging candles into the word 'Paris' next to flowers and messages left at the gate of the French Embassy following the recent terror attacks in Paris on November 14, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. Hundreds of people came throughout the day to lay flowers, candles and messages of condolence to mourn the victims of attacks last night in Paris that left at least 120 people dead across the French capital. The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attacks that were carried out by at least eight terrorists.. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A woman lights a candle at the French embassy in Guatemala City, during a ceremony Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in homage to the victims of the deadly attacks in Paris. Multiple terrorist attacks across Paris on Friday night left more than one hundred dead and many more injured. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
People react outside the Paris morgue in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack the Islamic State group without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks inflicted on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man pays respect to the victims of the attacks next to a sign reading "We Are Not Afraid" at Place de la Republique (Republic Square) in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack the Islamic State group without mercy as the jihadist group claimed responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14: Bono and band members from the band U2 place flowers on the pavement near the scene of yesterday's Bataclan Theatre terrorist attack on November 14, 2015 in Paris, France. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
People gather for a national service for the victims of the terror attack at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Thousands of French troops deployed around Paris on Sunday and tourist sites stood shuttered in one of the most visited cities on Earth while investigators questioned the relatives of a suspected suicide bomber involved in the country's deadliest violence since World War II. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
With the Brandenburg Gate, illuminated in the French national colors, in the background, a woman from Tunisia mourns for the victims killed in the Friday's attacks in Paris, France, next to the French Embassy in Berlin, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
People pay their respect to the victims at the site of the attacks on restaurant Le Petit Cambodge (Little Cambodia) and the Carillon Hotel on the first of three days of national mourning in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Thousands of French troops deployed around Paris on Sunday and tourist sites stood shuttered in one of the most visited cities on Earth while investigators questioned the relatives of a suspected suicide bomber involved in the country's deadliest violence since World War II. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man holds his head in his hands as he lays flowers in front of the Carillon cafe, in Paris, Saturday, Nov.14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack Islamic State without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks inflicted on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
People react outside the Paris morgue in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack the Islamic State group without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks inflicted on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14: A woman cries near Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, the day after a deadly attack on November 14, 2015 in Paris, France. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital. (Photo by Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images)
People pass a painting on a garage door opposite the restaurant on Rue de Charonne, Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, where attacks took place on Friday. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks on a stadium, a concert hall and Paris cafes that left more than 120 people dead and over 350 wounded. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A bullet hole in the window of the restaurant on Rue de Charonne, Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, where attacks took place on Friday. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks on a stadium, a concert hall and Paris cafes that left more than 120 people dead and over 350 wounded. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
French soldiers patrol at the Eiffel Tower which remained closed on the first of three days of national mourning in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Thousands of French troops deployed around Paris on Sunday and tourist sites stood shuttered in one of the most visited cities on Earth while investigators questioned the relatives of a suspected suicide bomber involved in the country's deadliest violence since World War II. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man places a candle in front of the Carillon cafe in Paris Saturday Nov. 14, 2015, a day after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
People light candles outside the French embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, for the victims killed in Friday's attacks in Paris. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 14: People arrive to lay candles and flowers at the gate of the French Embassy as the Brandenburg Gate stands behind illuminated in the colors of the French flag following the recent terror attacks in Paris on November 14, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. Hundreds of people came throughout the day to lay flowers, candles and messages of condolence to mourn the victims of attacks last night in Paris that left at least 120 people dead across the French capital. The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attacks that were carried out by at least eight terrorists. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A Christian boy prays during a candlelight vigil for victims who were killed in Friday's attacks in Paris, at St. Thomas Church in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left scores dead and hundreds injured. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
A woman lays flowers to pay tribute to the victims of Paris Attacks outside the French Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left scores dead and hundreds injured. (Balazs Mohai/MTI via AP)
Alexandra Salomon, from Paris, France, center, joins a vigil outside the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, to pay tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left scores dead and hundreds injured. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Egyptian tour guides hold a candlelight vigil at the base of the Great Pyramid of Giza in solidarity with victims of attacks in Paris and Beirut and the Russian plane crash in northern Sinai, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. The Islamic State group have claimed responsibility for Friday night's attacks in Paris, Thursdays's twin powerful suicide bombings that tore through a crowded Shiite neighborhood of Beirut, and bringing down a Russian jetliner over Egypt's Sinai region earlier this month. (AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell)
A young woman with her lips painted in the French national colours as Copenhagen citizens with torches gathered Sunday Nov. 15. 2015 at Kongens Nytorv Square by the French Embassy to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris Friday. (Miriam Dalsgaard/Polfoto via AP) DENMARK OUT
Denver Broncos free safety Darian Stewart (26) carries the French Flag as he takes the field prior to an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 15: Ultra Orthodox Jewish men pass as Jerusalem's Old City wall is illuminated with the colours of the French national flag to show solidarity for the victims of the Paris attacks on November 15, 2015 in Jerusalem, Israel. At least 129 people have been killed and over 300 are injured in Paris following a series of terrorist acts in the French capital on Friday. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Mumbaiâs Chhatrapati Shivaji train station building is illuminated by the colors of the French national flag in solidarity with France following Fridayâs Paris terror attacks, Mumbai, India, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. This Mumbai landmark was one of the major targets of the 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
French exchange student Loris Boichot, of Nice, France, is wrapped in the French flag as he displays a placard at a vigil Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Boston, held in sympathy for people of Paris. Multiple attacks across the French capital on Friday night have left scores dead and hundreds injured. The placard call for an end to barbarism, and includes the opening words to the French national anthem. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: A woman cries outside of the Consulate General of France in New York the day after an attack on civilians in Paris on November 14, 2015 in New York City. At least 100 people were killed in a popular Paris concert hall, one of at least 6 terror attacks in the French capital. The French president Francois Hollande closed French borders following the attacks. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A woman cries as she mourns for the victims killed in the Friday's attacks in Paris, France, in front of the French Embassy in Berlin, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A woman with her arm painted with the phrase in French "I am Paris" participates in a ceremony in Lima, Peru, in homage to the victims of the deadly attacks in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Multiple terrorist attacks across Paris on Friday night left more than one hundred dead and many more injured. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
French soldiers patrol the area at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on November 14, 2015 following a series of coordinated attacks in and around Paris late Friday which left more than 120 people dead. French President Francois Hollande blamed the Islamic State group for the attacks in Paris that left at least 128 dead, calling them an 'act of war'. The multiple attacks across the city late Friday were 'an act of war... committed by a terrorist army, the Islamic State, against France, against... what we are, a free country,' Hollande said. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Shoes and bloody shirt lay outside the Bataclan concert hall, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 in Paris. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 15: A rose is placed beside a bullet hole at La Belle Equipe restaraunt on Rue de Charonne following Fridays terrorist attack on November 15, 2015 in Paris, France. As France observes three days of national mourning members of the public continue to pay tribute to the victims of Friday's deadly attacks. A special service for the families of the victims and survivors is to be held at Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral later on Sunday.(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A woman places a paper with a peace sign combined with the Eiffel Tower and the words: 'We are united' between flowers and candles to remember the victims of Friday's attacks in Paris, in front of the French Embassy in Berlin, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left scores dead and hundreds injured. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A man passes candles placed for t victims of the Paris attacks Friday night, in front of the Hildesheim cathedral in Hildesheim northern Germany, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (Peter Steffen/dpa via AP)
People gather in Hong Kong, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, to mourn for the victims killed in Friday's attacks in Paris. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
A man hides his face as he leaves the morgue in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack the Islamic State group without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks inflicted on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
A watch lays on the ground outside the Bataclan concert hall, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 in Paris. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Flowers are placed outside the Bataclan concert hall, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 in Paris. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
The One World Trade Center spire is lit blue, white and red after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the lighting in honor of dozens killed in the Paris attacks Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in New York. French officials say several dozen people have been killed in shootings and explosions at a theater, restaurant and elsewhere in Paris. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: Pedestrians walk in front of the Sydney Opera House as its sails are illuminated in the colours of the French flag on November 14, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 are injured in Paris following a series of terrorist acts in the French capital on Friday. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)
People mix the wax of candles with the French colors outside the French embassy in Lima, Peru, during a ceremony in homage to the victims of the deadly attacks in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Multiple terrorist attacks across Paris on Friday night left more than one hundred dead and many more injured. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: A woman with a French flag painted in her face cries during a vigil for victims of the Paris terror attacks at Martin Place on November 14, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)
Cards, candles and flowers are placed in front of the Carillon cafe in Paris Saturday Nov. 14, 2015, a day after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
People lay flowers in front of the French Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, to mourn the victims in Friday's Paris attacks. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
SHANGHAI, CHINA - NOVEMBER 14: Benjamin Hebert of France with a message for Paris on his golf cap during the third round of the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren Golf Club on November 14, 2015 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
People line up to lay flowers in front of the French embassy in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, for the victims of the Paris attacks on Friday. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
People lay flowers and light candles in front of French Embassy in Warsaw on November 14, 2015 following a series of terror attacks in the French city of Paris and its surroundings that has left at least 120 people dead and some 200 wounded. AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI (Photo credit should read JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman holds a bouquet of roses during a vigil in solidarity with France after the deadly attacks in Paris, outside France's embassy in Bogota, Colombia, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left scores dead and hundreds injured. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: A man hold a French flag and a sign during a vigil for victims of the Paris terror attacks at Martin Place on November 14, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)
People line up to give blood at the St Louis hospital across the street from the Petit Cambodge restaurant in Paris Saturday Nov. 14, 2015, a day after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14: A man reads a French newspaper after a terrorist attack on November 14, 2015 in Paris, France. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
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DOING WHAT I LIKE

While Amimour was a fugitive, his father Azzedine, speaking under the pseudonym Mohamed, gave two interviews to Le Monde describing how his son told him in September 2013 he was heading for the south of France, only to call a week later from the Turkish-Syrian border.

"Don't be selfish, you wanted me to become a lawyer... Being here, I am doing what I like," his father quoted his son as saying in the first interview published in March 2014.

They spoke once a month via Skype, and the father even traveled to Syria last year to try to bring him back, he told Le Monde. When they met, his son, who called himself Abu Hajia, was on crutches and bore a distant smile.

"He was with another man who never left us alone. It was a very cold reunion," Azzedine said in the second interview published in December.

"He did not invite me back to his lodgings, say how he had been injured nor whether he had been fighting."

The father told Le Monde police did not question him about his trip to Syria when he returned.

"When Amimour was detained and his passport was seized, his mother was a little relieved as she thought he wouldn't be able to go anywhere," mayor Lagarde said. "But he still fled."

Lagarde said Amimour and the two other wanted Drancy men had become radicalized at the Blanc Mesnil mosque, one of three in the suburb. The mayor of Blanc Mesnil, Thierry Meignen, strongly denied that the mosque was radical in an interview with Reuters, however.

On a visit to the mosque, where the remains of a burnt-out car stood in a nearby car park, none of the lunchtime worshippers said they recognized the attacker.

"It's not the mosque that's radical," said one man who gave his name as Khaled. "But who's to know if there could be such people who come here."

(Additional reporting by Antonella Cinelli in Rome; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Andrew Callus and Sonya Hepinstall)

Remembering some of the victims of the Paris attacks:

34 PHOTOS
Stories of those who died in the Paris attacks
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Bus driver who turned Paris attacker skipped police watch
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
In this undated photo provided by Christophe N'Guyen, Cedric Gomet poses for a photograph in Paris. Gomet, of Paris, was a technician for French television network TV5Monde, when he died in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks. (Christophe N'Guyen/TV5Monde via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Here is a memorial for Thomas Duperron, reading "rest in peace and in music".(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Displayed is a memorial for Suzon. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
This photo courtesy of Ombeline Le Gendre shows Pierre Innocenti, left, and Stéphane Albertini. Innocenti and Albertini died in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks when they both went to the Bataclan to enjoy the rock music they both loved. (photo courtesy of Ombeline Le Gendre via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Displayed, is a memorial for Mathieu Hoche.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
This undated photo provided by Mathilde Mayet shows Lamia Mondeguer. Mondeguer died in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks while celebrating a friend’s birthday at the La Belle Equipe bar. (Mathilde Mayet via AP)
This undated photo provided by Mathilde Mayet shows Lamia Mondeguer. Mondeguer died in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks while celebrating a friend’s birthday at the La Belle Equipe bar. (Mathilde Mayet via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Displayed is a memorial for Cecil and Luis .(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
In this photo taken on Sept. 9, 2011 photo provided by Nicolas Louis, Eric Thome poses for a photograph in Paris. Thome, 39, was an artist, fan of music and father with a 5-year-old girl and another child on the way when he died during the terrorst attack at Bataclan concert hall in Paris. Thome and a partner were running their own Paris design studio after working in the advertising business for years. (Nicolas Louis via AP)
This undated family handout photo issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on Saturday Nov. 14, 2015 shows Nick Alexander of England. Nick Alexander, one of the victims of the attacks in Paris, was working at the Bataclan concert hall selling merchandise for the performing band. (Foreign & Commonwealth Office via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
This photo courtesy of Eric Fourmentin shows Romain Didier. Didier died in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks while celebrating a friend’s birthday at the La Belle Equipe bar. (Courtesy of Eric Fourmentin via AP)

This undated photo provided by Julien Noel shows Pierre-Antoine Henry. By profession, Henry was an engineer for a company that designed systems for military use. But the father of two was also a dedicated rock fan who had traveled far and wide to see his favorite band, Pearl Jam, said childhood friend Noel. Henry had followed his yen for music to the Eagles of Death Metal show at the Bataclan, where he was killed Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in Paris. (Julien Noel via AP)

Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
In this 2013 photo provided by Leslie Winer, Anne Cornet Guyomard and Pierre-Yves Guyomard are showered with confetti on their wedding day in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. The couple was killed during the attacks in Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (Christophe Van Huffel/Leslie Winer via AP)
In this 2013 photo provided by Leslie Winer, Anne Cornet Guyomard and Pierre-Yves Guyomard pose for a photo while seated in a car on their wedding day in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. The couple was killed during the attacks in Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (Christophe Van Huffel/Leslie Winer via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
An undated photo provided by Joseph Anticevic shows his wife Armelle Pumir Anticevic riding in one of Joseph's cruise boats, named for her. Armelle Pumir Anticevic, 46-year-old mother of two children, ages 9 and 11, was a victim of the Paris attacks. She died at the rock concert at Bataclan hall, where she and her husband had gone to celebrate. He survived. (Joseph Anticevic via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in memory in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

This undated photo provided by Eponyme Galerie shows Alban Denuit, who was killed during attacks claimed by the Islamic State group that took place in several locations in Paris on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Denuit, a 32-year-old American, was a teacher and an artist whose work had been exhibited in Paris. (Eponyme Galerie via AP)

Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Here is a memorial for Pierre, reading "you were the joy of life". (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
This December 2012 photo provided by Stephen Fox shows Fanny Minot, one of the victims in the deadly attacks in Paris that occurred Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in Paris. Minot, 29, was an editor at the show, "Le Supplement." "She was such a loving, compassionate person, with such an adventurous view on life," said her friend Stephen Fox. (Stephen Fox via AP)
This December 2012 photo provided by Stephen Fox shows Fanny Minot, one of the victims in the deadly attacks in Paris that occurred Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in Paris. Minot, 29, was an editor at the show, "Le Supplement." "She was such a loving, compassionate person, with such an adventurous view on life," said her friend Stephen Fox. (Stephen Fox via AP)
This December 2012 photo provided by Stephen Fox shows Fanny Minot, one of the victims in the deadly attacks in Paris that occurred Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in Paris. Minot, 29, was an editor at the show, "Le Supplement." "She was such a loving, compassionate person, with such an adventurous view on life," said her friend Stephen Fox. (Stephen Fox via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Here is a memorial for Stephane, reading "you left with this music you loved so much, bon voyage".(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

This 2012 photo courtesy of Caroline Jolivet shows Christophe Foultier at Lake Tahoe, Calif. Foultier died in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks while watching the band Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan. (Courtesy of Caroline Jolivet via AP)

Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
This 2009 photo provided by Yaneyla Hernandez shows Sven Silva, right, with friends Andres Borges, center, and Tomas Corridore, in Rio Chico, Miranda state, Venezuela. Silva was killed in the Nov. 13, 2015, Paris terrorists attacks, when he had traveled to Paris to meet up with two old friends and he decided to head to the show at the Bataclan. (Yaneyla Hernandez via AP)
Pictures of victims, flowers and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015, four days after over 130 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. Here, are memorials for Nico Classeau, Germain Ferey and Estelle.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
A picture of a victim of the attack on Bataclan concert hall reads "our teacher" and "r.i.p Romain Dunet" on makeshift memorial outside the Bataclan, the site of one of the six coordinates attacks which claimed the most victims in Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. France is demanding security aid and assistance from the European Union in the wake of the Paris attacks and has triggered a never-before-used article in the EU's treaties to secure it. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
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