Salah Abdeslam trial – Last remaining jihadi behind Paris terror attacks tells court ‘I am a soldier of Islamic State’09/08/2021
THE only known survivor of a terrorist suicide squad which murdered 130 people in Paris has told a court “I am a soldier of the Islamic State”.
Salah Abdeslam, 31, is facing multiple life sentences after admitting being part of the cell that struck the capital city on November 13, 2015.
The suicide bombing and gun assault was carried out by three teams of jihadists on bars, restaurants and the Bataclan music venue.
The attack, planned in Syria and later claimed by the Islamic State group, was the worst post-war atrocity on French territory.
Abdeslam has been charged with murder and terrorism offences in what has been dubbed 'The Trial of the Century' in France.
As it opened in Paris, Abdeslam appeared in the defendants’ glass box along with 13 co-accused while a further six were charged in absentia.
Jean-Louis Périès, the President of the Judges bench, asked him what his name and occupation were.
“I gave up any profession to become a fighter of the Islamic State,” he told the court.
Abdeslam also said he had “no known address” beyond prison, where he is on remand and serving a previous sentence for attempted murder.
Authorities have to extraordinary lengths to ensure security at the trial, building an entirely new courtroom within the 13th-century Palais de Justice in Paris.
On Wednesday morning Abdeslam was removed from his cell at Fleury-Mérogis prison, in the southern Paris suburbs, where he is under 24-hour video surveillance.
He was driven in an armed convoy to the court, where specialist anti-terrorist judges will adjudicate.
Abdeslam, whose brother was among the suicide bombers, appeared wearing a black short-sleeved shirt and black trousers, his long hair tied back.
His childhood friend Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was shot dead by police, was the suspected on-the-ground coordinator of the Paris slaughter.
The horror was unleashed when jihadists detonated suicide belts outside the Stade de France stadium.
The French President Francois Hollande was watching France play a football match against Germany.
A group of Islamist gunmen, including Abdeslam's brother Brahim, later opened fire from a car on half a dozen restaurants.
The massacre culminated at the Bataclan music venue where three jihadists stormed in during a performance, killing 90 people.
Earlier defence lawyers all quit because of Abdeslam’s reluctance to communicate with them.
Sven Mary, his former counsel in Belgium, said: "He has the intelligence of an empty ashtray. He’s extraordinarily vacuous."
Abdeslam, a French citizen who grew up in Belgium, is already three years into a 20-year-prison sentence for attempted murder.
That sentence relates to a shoot-out he had with Brussels police before his capture four months after the Paris attacks.
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