An arrest warrant has been issued for Salah Abdeslam, the Paris attack suspect, and his accomplice Mohamed Abrini by the Moroccan authorities.
Abdeslam, whose brother Brahim blew himself up in the Paris attacks that killed at least 130 people, is at the center of an international manhunt, according to the Moroccan police.
Salah Abdeslam has been on the run since November 13. The warrant against the ISIS fugitive was issued at the end of last month. The Moroccan security source said it was not sure whether Abdeslam had fled to Morocco or another part of North Africa. German police launched a search last month after a tip-off that he was in Morocco. His French citizenship made it easier for him to travel freely in the European Union’s Schengen Area, which does not have restrictions of passport requirement or other border control measures for him. It was feared that he had fled to Syria, but French President Francois Hollande stated it to be a “rumor.”
Abrini was seen with Abdeslam on November 11, two days before the attacks, at a gas station near Paris in a rented Renault Clio, which was later used in the attacks.
According to a report in Yahoo News, Belgium’s federal prosecutor said in a statement, “Two days before the Paris attacks, on 11 November around 19.00 pm, Salah Abdeslam was filmed in a gas station in Ressons… together with a person who has been identified as Mohamed Abrini, born 27 December 1984. The latter was driving the Renault Clio used two days later for committing the attacks. The Investigating Judge has issued a European and International arrest warrant against Mohamed Abrini. He is actively tracked down by Belgian and French police services.”
Investigators say he went to Belgium from France the day after the attacks despite being stopped by police and released on the way in routine road checks before his name was circulated as a suspect. Belgium came under a lot of criticism in France over its perceived intelligence failings before and after the attacks. France 24 reports that both Brahim Abdesalam and his brother Salah are natives of Molenbeek, a neighborhood in Brussels, Belgium, and a breeding ground for terrorist activities. They were questioned by police on their radical activities but released without charge and without a report to French authorities this year.
Belgium was under alert for fears that Salah was back there and might be plotting attacks leading the closure of Brussels underground rail lines, schools, shopping centers, and other public places on November 20. The shutdown was partially lifted five days later.
Switzerland’s national authorities promptly increased the alert level in Geneva, saying they were hunting for suspects. Geneva authorities stated the hunt was related to the Paris investigation in the run-up to a seminar involving the U.S., Russia, and the UN on Syria’s future, which is scheduled to start on today in Geneva.
Mohamed Adbeslam, the brother Salah and Brahim, confirmed having met Abrini but denied any knowledge of the terror plot, thinking his brothers were going “skiing.”
He said, “Fortunately, there are many people who believe me and I get a lot of messages of support, from a lot of French in particular, families of victims. I totally understand their anger against me and my family. But I also want to tell them that, while unfortunately we did nothing, we did not want what happened in Paris.”
According to a report in the Daily Mail, Ali Oulkadi, probably the last person to have seen Abdeslam, said he gave him a lift across Brussels on November 14. When he dropped him off, Abdeslam said, “You’ll never see me again.”