Apparently, funerals are some of the best occasions for gathering intelligence.
According to a Monday report, the National Security Agency (NSA) provided Belgian officials with key information that led to the capture and arrest of Paris terrorist Salah Abdeslam, the last surviving suspect of the November 2015 Paris attacks that ended with the death of 130 people.
In March, NSA agents were called in to monitor the funeral of another Paris terrorist, Chakib Akrouh. Working with Belgian officials, the NSA was able to gather data from the cellphones of funeral attendants to find Abdeslam. “As Edward Snowden has so helpfully explained to everyone, the NSA are the best at signal intercepts,” a security official told BuzzFeed.
The data collected during the funeral included which numbers each attendee had been in contact with. NSA agents focused on one number in particular, which belonged to a known colleague of Abdeslam. “The guy is filming on a smartphone – that tells us he’s going to send that file to someone, right? We had the NSA hit that phone very hard,” says a security service official.
Salah Abdeslam, who is believed to have backed out of the suicidal attack on Paris at the last minute, was arrested in Brussels in March and now sits behind bars in a Belgian prison.
Editor’s note: Yes, these guys are that good.