Salah Abdeslam, the last surviving terrorist believed responsible for the November 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris, is said to be cooperating with police in Belgium, and his legal team is opposing his extradition to France, Yahoo News is reporting.
On Friday, the 26-year-old Abdeslam, along with other accomplices, were arrested in a bloody gun battle with Belgian police, according to Fox News.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) March 18, 2016
Belgian police, following up on information from tips and earlier raids, caught up with Abdeslam in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek. Abdeslam was shot in the leg but will recover from his wounds.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 18, 2016
On November 13, 2015, a coordinated series of terrorist attacks at Paris’ Bataclan Concert Hall, the soccer stadium Stade de France, and other locations throughout the city claimed the lives of 130 people, and injured over 300 others. Ten terrorists, believed to have ties to ISIS, deployed bombs — including suicide bombings — and mass shootings, allegedly in retaliation for French airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria, in the worst attack on French citizens since World War II.
Nine of the 10 terrorists, all citizens of various European nations, died in the attacks. Salah Abdeslam, however, did not. Police believe he had planned to blow himself up in a suicide attack, but backed out at the last second, and instead fled into neighboring Belgium. A vest with Abdeslam’s fingerprints and DNA was found, abandoned, in Paris.
Abdeslam spent the next four months on the run. Police believe he spent most of his time in Belgium, specifically in Brussells’ Molenbeek neighborhood, a ghetto known to be a hotbed of Islamist extremism. The ringleader of the Paris attacks, ISIS member Abdelhamid Abaaoud, as well as attacker Bilal Hadfi, who died in the Paris attacks, are both known to have ties to Molenbeek.
Brussels Molenbeek neighbourhood looks more like Iraq or Syria.
Via @JackMarsman pic.twitter.com/xBC70nMDi0
— End of Europe (@End_of_Europe) March 19, 2016
Several people in and around Brussels have been arrested with aiding Abdeslam, either through providing him money, transportation, or housing. His fingerprints have been found in several apartments throughout Brussels.
On Tuesday, Belgian police raided a house in Molenbeek, looking for Abdeslam. Though Abdeslam was not there, his fingerprints were, leading police to conclude that he had spent time there. Intelligence gathered at Tuesday’s raid — during which one Paris-linked suspect was killed and two others escaped — led police to another Brussells apartment. On Friday, police raided that apartment, where they apprehended Abdeslam.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that last week’s raids in Belgium, in which multiple alleged terrorists and supporters have been taken into custody, dealt a “major blow” to Islamist terrorist activities in Europe.
“The operations of the past week have enabled us to incapacitate several individuals who are clearly extremely dangerous and totally determined.”
Abdeslam is, as of this writing, in police custody in Belgium, where he has been charged with “participation in terrorist murder and participation in the activities of a terrorist organisation.” He has been appointed a lawyer, Sven Mary, who has vowed to fight his client’s extradition to France.
“I can already tell you that we will oppose his extradition.”
This legal maneuvering will likely delay Abdeslam’s eventual extradition to France, but will not prevent it, legal experts tell Yahoo News.
A lawyer for Salah Abdeslam’s family said in a statement that the alleged terrorist’s arrest has brought a “sense of relief” to his family.
[Image courtesy of Belgium Federal Police]