A brother of a Paris attack suspect says the surviving suicide bomber chose not to blow himself up in order to “save lives.” Mohamed Abdeslam said in an interview with French BFMTV that his brother, Salah, made the claim from his Belgian prison cell.
“There would have been more victims had I done it,” Salah told Mohamed. “Luckily, I couldn’t go through with it.” A “suicide belt,” presumably a harness with a bomb, was found intact on a Paris street, writes Michael Martinez of CNN.
DNA taken from sweat on the belt was a match for Salah Abdeslam. ISIS claimed responsibility and named the locations of the attacks, including in the 18th arrondissement. No attack took place there, but Abdeslam’s suicide belt was found in the 18th arrondissement.
However, in a March 19 article by The Guardian, French prosecutor François Molins both accused Abdeslam and cautioned against haste. “Salah Abdeslam is a key actor in the attacks in Paris and St Denis (Stade de France). He had a central role in the make-up of the commandos and in the logistical planning of the 13 November attacks,” he said. But the suspect’s confession needed to be double checked, he added.
A third Abdeslam, Ibrahim, was apparently less concerned about “saving lives.” He did light off his suicide belt on the Boulevard Voltaire in the Paris attacks. He managed to injure more than a dozen people, one severely, while killing himself.
The Paris attacks claimed the lives of 130 people on November 13, 2015. Hundreds more were injured.
According to a BBC report, Salah Abdeslam is a French national. He was arrested in Brussels only days before 32 people were killed in the bombing there. ISIS lays claim to the Brussels attack, too.
Martinez reports that Abdeslam can be extradited to France.
Salah Abdeslam wasn’t the Paris attack’s mastermind. He was apparently a recruiter. The Guardian article reported Abdeslam travelled extensively and brought terrorists back to Europe through the Balkans.
Abdeslam may also have been one of the drivers in the Paris attacks. Authorities believe he drove three suicide bombers to the Stade de France. Three people were killed and several injured in the attack outside the stadium, where France was playing Germany in a soccer match. The death toll was much higher at the other Paris attack sites.
After the Paris attacks, Abdelsam hid in Brussels, according to officials. Friends may have helped him flee France. Since Abdeslam had not yet been identified as a suspect, he made it through checkpoints set up to catch the attackers. He soon became the most wanted man in Europe. However, the ringleader of the attacks was thought to be a man called Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Abaaoud was killed by French police in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis five days after the attacks, according to Mariano Castillo and Paul Cruickshank of CNN.
Abdeslam got into a shootout with Belgian police in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek. He was wounded in the leg and captured. The poverty-stricken Molenbeek sector has a largely Muslim population.
Abdeslam initially cooperated with police. But after the Brussels airport and metro station were bombed, he reportedly stopped talking – except to announce he wanted to be extradited to France.
As for the other attackers, many are dead. The Telegraph says seven suicide bombers are dead and eight have been arrested. However, Belgian intelligence officials believe at least five more people were involved. The whereabouts of the five are unknown at this time.
What remains unclear is the reason for Salah Abdeslam’s sudden attack of conscience. If Abdeslam was involved in the Brussels attacks despite being in custody, as officials believe, he had a hand in killing 160 people and wounding hundreds more all told. He is an active member of the group blamed for bomb blasts in Turkey, and in numerous acts of terrorism throughout the world.
Yet, unlike one of his own brothers, he left his own suicide belt on a Paris street.
[Photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP Images]