Can Salah Abdeslam unlock vital information on the Paris attacks?
Can Salah Abdeslam unlock vital information on the Paris attacks? He is considered the key to the atrocities, the last member of the militants who is still alive.
If he confirms his intention to cooperate with the authorities then we could have a clearer picture of the events leading up to and on the night of November 13. He had been the most wanted fugitive in Europe.
After four months on the run Abdeslam was arrested in Molenbeek a suburb of Brussels where he grew up. He is the only suspect linked to the attacks who is in the hands of justice.
At the heart of the cell of terrorists his role was crucial on the night of November 13 and before. Two others indicted are being held in Paris but they played a minor role.
Before the attacks in which 130 were killed it was Salah Abdeslam who rented the vehicles. And it was he who allegedly drove the three suicide bombers to the Stade de France and then decided to pull out of the attack.
He headed to Belgium on November 14. And was caught on CCTV cameras at a service station near the border with France.
He is also a childhood friend from their days growing up in Molenbeek of Abdelhamid Abaaoud. He, it has been claimed was the brains behind the Paris attacks.
He was killed during a police raid in Saint Denis on November 18. But Abdeslam told the authorities in Belgium he had only seen Abaaoud once.
Abdeslam reportedly portrayed himself as a pawn under the command and influence of his brother Brahim who was responsible for the killings along with Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
Another friend since childhood is Mohamed Abrini who was seen in a photograph from November 11 with one of the cars which was used in the Paris attacks.
The day after his arrest in Brussels on April 9 Abrini told police he was the man in the hat seen with the two suicide bombers who attacked the airport on March 22.
On the left of the photograph was Najim Laachraoiu who was possibly in charge of the explosives for the Paris attacks and who was stopped with Abdeslam at the Austrian Hungarian border on September 9.
Extradited from Belgium to France on April 27 Abdeslam’s defence lawyer is Frank Berton.
“I met Salah Abdeslam who at first seemed very down, very attentive. His defence is based on why he did it otherwise it makes no sense and he would have no need of a lawyer, he could defend himself,” he said.
His Belgian lawyer, Sven Mary described him as a small time criminal a “ follower rather than a leader.” Is that a clue perhaps that he is seeking to minimise Abdeslam’s role before the court in France as he had already done in Belgium?
Learn more about