Wednesday 28 September 2016

Abdeslam 'talking to police' amid fears of attack

Jan Strupczewski in Brussels

Published 22/03/2016 | 02:30

Salah Abdeslam
Salah Abdeslam
Abdeslam (left in picture) was caught on CCTV at a petrol station while fleeing back to Belgium

The only suspected participant in the November 13 Paris terror attacks to be captured alive has been cooperating with police investigators and is "worth his weight in gold", his lawyer said yesterday.

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Belgium's Interior Minister, Jan Jambon, said the country was on high alert for a possible revenge attack following the capture of 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam in a flat in Brussels on Friday. "We know that stopping one cell can ... push others into action. We are aware of it in this case," he said.

French investigator François Molins told a news conference in Paris on Saturday that Abdeslam, a French citizen born and raised in Brussels, admitted to investigators he had wanted to blow himself up along with others at the Stade de France on the night of the attack claimed by Isil; but he later backed out.

Confidentiality

Abdeslam's lawyer Sven Mary said he would sue Molins for making the comment public, calling it a violation of judicial confidentiality. Molins, speaking in Brussels yesterday alongside his Belgian counterpart, insisted he had the right to make elements of the inquiry public in an "objective" manner.

Mary said Abdeslam, who is fighting extradition to France, was now fully cooperating with investigators.

"I think that Salah Abdeslam is of prime importance for this investigation. I would even say he is worth his weight in gold. He is collaborating. He is communicating. He is not maintaining his right to remain silent," Mary told Belgian broadcaster RTBF.

As the only suspected participant or planner of the Paris attack in police custody, Abdeslam would be seen by investigators as a possible major source of information on others involved, in support networks, finance and links with Isil in Syria. There would also be urgent interest in finding out what further attacks might be planned.

Jambon said that it was a possibility. "After 18 months of dealing with this terrorist issue, I have learned that when the terrorists and weapons are in the same place, and that's what we saw in Forest, we are close to an attack. I'm not saying it is evidence. But yes, there are indications," he said.

Irish Independent

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