Issued on: Modified:
The sole survivor of the jihadist cell that killed 130 people in Paris six years ago said on Wednesday that France “knew the risks” of attacking jihadist targets in Syria, when he spoke again a week after the trial about the worst post-war atrocity. in France.
“We attacked France, we targeted its population, civilians, but there was nothing personal,” Salah Abdeslam said.
“(President) Francois Hollande knew the risks he was running in attacking the Islamic State in Syria,” he said, referring to the French president’s decision at the time to authorize attacks against the extremist jihadist group in Syria.
His calm remarks were in stark contrast to the outbursts he made during the opening days of the trial that opened last week, where 19 others are also indicted in the largest trial in modern French legal history.
This was the first time in the trial that Abdeslam addressed the court with the judges’ permission.
Many in the audience, including the families of the dead and the roughly 350 physically injured people, cried or hugged as Abdeslam spoke on his 32nd birthday.
He insisted that he and his co-defendants were not “terrorists, jihadists, extremists” but “Muslims.” “This is authentic Islam,” he said.
>> November 2015 attacks: Parisians remember a night of terror when the criminal trial opens (Part 1 of 2)
“They often say that I am being provocative, but it is not true, I want to be honest,” Abdeslam said. “My goal is not to hurt anyone.”
Abdeslam was one of 10 jihadists deployed to spread 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.
Soon after, another team attacked bars and restaurants in the heart of the capital, while three others broke into the Bataclan concert hall.
>> November 2015 attacks: Parisians remember a night of terror when the criminal trial opens (Part 2 of 2)
Nine attackers blew themselves up or were shot and killed by the police.
Abdeslam, who dumped his defective explosives vest in a public container, was captured four months later after a shootout with police in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, where he grew up.
The marathon trial will last until May 2022, with 145 days of hearings scheduled in which some 330 lawyers and 300 victims will participate.