Alleged Paris Attacks Mastermind To Be Sent To France

| by Jordan Smith
Salah AbdeslamSalah Abdeslam

Salah Abdeslam, the alleged mastermind behind the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, is to be extradited to France to face charges there.

The decision was made by a Belgian court March 31, two weeks after the 26-year-old was captured in a raid on a Brussels suburb on March 17, Daily Mail reported. The Daily Mail says Abdeslam has agreed to cooperate with French authorities, turning against his assumed ISIS superiors.

“He wants to cooperate with the French authorities,” Abdeslam’s lawyer, Cedric Moisse, said, according to Daily Mail.

Sven Mary, another attorney, said Abdeslam had no prior knowledge of the March 22 attacks that struck Brussels airport and a metro station, killing 32.

Abdeslam was shot in the knee during his capture. He is believed to be the last surviving member of the team of 10 who carried out the Paris terrorist attacks, killing 130.

Abdeslam is suspected of having been responsible for logistics, including renting the cars used by the terrorists to travel to the attack locations.

Since Abdeslam’s arrest, questions have been raised about the actions of the intelligence agencies.

He was reportedly only questioned for one hour between March 18 and March 22.

“He seemed very tired and he had been operated on the day before,” an anonymous Belgian security official said of Abdeslam’s interrogation March 19, according to Politico.

“They were not thinking about the possibilities of what happened on [March 22] morning,” another official added.

Instead, investigators focused during the initial interrogation on Abdeslam’s role in Paris.

He told investigators he had intended to blow up the Stade de France sports stadium, but backed out at the last minute. Some officials believe it is more likely the explosives malfunctioned.

Abdeslam was personally connected with the Brussels attackers, including Ibrahim el Bakraoui, who blew himself up at Brussels airport. Najim Laachraoui, the second airport bomber, once drove with Abdeslam to Hungary.

Khalid el Bakraoui, Ibrahim's brother, who blew himself up at the Brussels metro station, had been linked to the Paris attacks and an international arrest warrant was issued for him in December 2015.

Abdeslam’s fingerprints were also reportedly found in the apartment where the attack was prepared.

Another anonymous Belgian official told Politico that Abdeslam was due to have taken part in the Brussels attacks, and reports indicate the other terrorists may have sped up their plans following his arrest.

Abdeslam was interrogated again in the immediate aftermath of the Brussels attacks, but refused to divulge any information.

Sources: Daily Mail, Politico / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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