The main defendant in the trial of the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015 says that the Islamic State network that hit the city attacked France and that the deaths of 130 people were “nothing personal”.
Dressed in all black and refusing to remove his black mask, Salah Abdeslam was the last of the 14 accused present in the specially built courtroom to speak.
Nine Islamic State gunmen and suicide bombers struck within minutes of each other in several locations around Paris on November 13, 2015, beginning at the National Football Stadium and ending with a massacre inside the Bataclan Concert Hall. It was the deadliest violence to hit France since World War II and one of the worst terrorist attacks to hit the West.
Abdeslam is the only survivor of that cell, most of whose members were French or Belgian. He fled the city after throwing off his working suicide vest. The two people he urged to drive all night from Brussels to Paris and pick him up are among the 20 men facing trial. Sex is tried in absence.
Abdeslam said the attack was revenge for French airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
“We fought against France, we attacked France, we inhabited the civilian population. “There was nothing personal against them,” said Abdeslam. I know my statement may be shocking, but it is not to dig deeper into the wound but to be sincere towards those who suffer immeasurable grief. “
The same network hit Brussels airport and metro in March 2016, killing another 32 people. Mohammed Abrini, who is also on trial in Paris, left Paris the night before the attack in November 2015 but took part in the Brussels attack. He acknowledged his role on Wednesday.
“In this evil that happened in France, I am neither the master nor the architect. I did not give any logistical or financial help, says Abrini.