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‘Nothing Personal’ in 2015 Paris Attacks, Abdeslam Tells Court

‘Nothing Personal’ in 2015 Paris Attacks, Abdeslam Tells Court

Thursday, 16 September, 2021 - 05:30
AP file photo of Salah Abdeslam

The main suspect in the 2015 attacks that killed 130 people in Paris told a French court on Wednesday that there was nothing personal about the attacks, French BFM television reported.

"We attacked France, we targeted the population but it was nothing personal," Salah Abdeslam was quoted as saying.

Abdeslam is believed by prosecutors to be the only surviving member of the ISIS cell that carried out the gun-and-bomb attacks on bars, restaurants, the Bataclan concert hall and the Stade de France stadium on Nov. 13, 2015.

Abdeslam disrupted the trial last week to make political statements from the dock, prompting the judge to briefly suspend the hearing.

He also claimed on Wednesday that France "knew the risks" of attacking militant targets in Syria.

"Francois Hollande knew the risks he was taking in attacking ISIS in Syria," he said, referring to the decision of the French president at the time to authorize strikes against the group in Syria.

Many in the audience, including families of the dead and the roughly 350 people physically injured, cried or hugged one another as Abdeslam, who turned 32 on Wednesday, spoke.

Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan who lived in Belgium, was one of 10 militants deployed to sow terror in Paris on the night of November 13, 2015, using suicide bombings and mass shootings.

The group struck first at the Stade de France stadium north of Paris, where three men blew themselves up.

Shortly afterwards, another team attacked bars and restaurants in the heart of the capital while three others attacked the Bataclan.

Nine of the assailants blew themselves up or were shot dead by police.

Abdeslam, who dumped his defective explosives vest in a public bin, was captured four months later in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, where he grew up.

The marathon trial will last until May 2022, with 145 days of scheduled hearings involving about 330 lawyers and 300 victims.

Questioning of Abdeslam and the others will begin in November, focusing on their backgrounds and personalities, before turning to their preparations and actions.

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