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Paris attacks suspect says 'didn't want' to detonate vest

March 30, 2022

The suspected lone survivor of the group that carried out the 2015 terror attacks in Paris has told judges it was "his decision" to not blow himself up.

This court drawing shows main defendant Salah Abdeslam (middle) during a session of the Paris special court on the trial of the 2015 terror attacks
Salah Abdeslam initially told the court on Wednesday he would not answer questions about the day of the attacksImage: Benoit Peyrucq/AFP/dpa/picture alliance

The main defendant in the trial of the 2015 attacks in Paris on Wednesday told the court that he had refused to set off the explosive belt of his own free will.

Salah Abdeslam is the last surviving suspected assailant in the Bataclan terror case that left 130 people dead.

What did the defendant say?

Abdeslam said he had "abandoned" plans to blow himself up with a bomb belt.

 "I didn't go all the way, I abandoned triggering my belt, not out of cowardice, not out of fear, but I just didn't want to," he told the hearing.

He said he planned to set off the suicide belt before "going into reverse" on the evening of November 13.

Asked if he had lied to other accomplices by telling them that the explosives belt had not worked, he said "yes."

"I was ashamed of not going all the way," he said. "I was afraid of the looks from the other jihadists. I was 25-years-old. There you go, it's that I was ashamed, as simple as that."

The 32-year-old French defendant had initially told the court he would be using his right to remain silent. 

Around two hours into the court hearing, a lawyer representing the victims' families caused him to break his silence with a personal question about his fiancée.

Last surviving alleged attacker

The trial in Paris involves a total of 20 suspects, including six who are being tried in absentia and five who are believed to have already died in Syria.

They are accused over their suspected roles in the terror attacks, ranging from providing logistical support to planning the attacks, as well as supplying weapons.

The man believed to have organized the attacks was killed in a shootout with police in the Paris neighborhood of Saint-Denis just days after the carnage.

Abdeslam is the only suspected attacker who did not set off his explosive belt. 

He allegedly had a suicide vest that he dumped in a suburb of Paris, where it was later found, before he fled to his hometown Brussels.

He was arrested in Brussels in April 2016. 

The so-called "Islamic State" terrorist group claimed responsibility for the series of attacks in November 2015.

Assailants opened fire at the Bataclan concert hall and in bars and restaurants across Paris, killing 130 people. Three suicide bombers detonated their vests outside a stadium during a Germany-France international football game. 

Surviving the Bataclan attack

fb/nm (AFP, dpa, EFE)