Suspect in Paris terror attacks, Abdeslam has given up blowing himself up – POLITICO

The main suspect in the trial of the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, Salah Abdeslam, told the court on Wednesday that he decided not to blow himself up on the evening of November 13, 2015 as planned.

“I enter this bar on the 18th floor [arrondissement], I order a drink, look at the people around me and think, ‘No, I’m not going to do it.’ I gave up, I left, I took the car,” he said during the final hearing of his trial.

Abdeslam refused to speak to the court during his hearing two weeks ago, but broke his silence on Wednesday. “I’ll explain myself because this is the last time I can do it. I’ll do my best, I’ll do my best,” he said after complaining about his portrayal in the media.

Abdeslam said he was briefed on the plans for France by another member of the jihadist group behind the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. “He told me he blew me up and it was a shock. I thought about going to Syria. I didn’t feel ready,” said Abdeslam.

On the evening of November 13, Abdeslam exited the car in which he had been transporting three suicide bombers from the Stade de France. He said he was still wearing his explosive belt at the time, which he threw away shortly after.

Mohamed Abrini, known as the “man in the hat” after being caught by CCTV at Brussels’ Zaventem Airport minutes before the March 2016 attacks, also answered questions from prosecutors in Paris. Abrini and Abdeslam will be tried in a Belgian criminal court in the autumn for their involvement in the Brussels attacks. This process is expected to take at least nine months.

In 2015, gunmen targeted several locations in Paris, including the Bataclan concert hall and several bars across Paris, killing 131 people. Abdeslam was on the run for four months before being arrested on March 18, just days before the Brussels attacks. He is accused of playing a key role in the attacks and charged with murder, attempted murder and hostage-taking. If found guilty, he faces a life sentence. Suspect in Paris terror attacks, Abdeslam has given up blowing himself up - POLITICO

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