#Paris #Assassination #Trial #Suspects
A total of 20 people were tried in connection with the November 2015 attacks by the Islamic State group on the Bataclan concert hall and other targets around Paris, with verdicts expected on Wednesday.
Only 14 of them showed up in person, the rest are missing or presumed dead.
– Salah Abdeslam, 32 years old –
Once a stoned party lover growing up in the impoverished Molenbeek district of Brussels, Abdeslam turned to radical Islam alongside his brother Brahim, who blew himself up in a bar during the Paris attacks.
The sole surviving attacker made his confession as an “Islamic State fighter” and recited religious verses in his first court appearance in September, but his provocative early behavior has faded from view.
He broke down in tears in April, apologizing to the victims and urging them to “hate me in moderation.”
He has defended himself by saying he never killed anyone after claiming he backed off from his mission to blow himself up in a bar.
Prosecutors say his suicide belt is simply defective.
He was on the run for four months after the attacks and was involved in a shootout with the police in Brussels, for which he has already been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
French prosecutors have asked for a life sentence.
His former lawyer in Belgium once described him as “the intelligence of an empty ashtray”.
– Mohamed Abrini, 37 years old –
A childhood friend of Abdeslam and other Molenbeek jihadists, Abrini is a high school dropout and multiple convicted thief who turned to Islamic State ideology after his radicalized younger brother joined the group and was killed in Syria.
“It is a duty for all Muslims to go to jihad,” he told a court in January, justifying the Paris attacks in response to Western bombings of Islamic State and its now-defunct caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
At the end of the trial on Monday, the former bakery worker, known to friends as “Brioche,” said it enabled him to “put faces on the victims.”
“I’m aware that what happened is disgusting.”
The Belgian claimed he pulled out of the Paris attacks at the last moment, but admitted meeting the ringleader beforehand and booking cars and shelters for the other jihadists.
He participated in several suicide bombings in Brussels in 2016, but decided not to detonate himself.
Prosecutors asked for a life sentence of at least 22 years.
– Osama Krayem, 29, and Sofian Ayari, 28 –
Krayem, a Swede of Syrian and Palestinian origin, is said to have fled Paris with Abdeslam after the attacks.
The long-haired jihadist was identified thanks to a scar on his eyebrow in an infamous IS video showing a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.
He remained silent during the trial, issuing a written statement in January that said: “At first I thought I would speak out. Then I saw how the hearings were going and I lost all hope.”
He is suspected of planning another attack on Amsterdam Airport with Ayari, a Tunisian who traveled to Syria to join IS.
Ayari, who was arrested with Abdeslam, began explaining his past with ISIS after being “moved” by testimony from a victim’s mother in February, but then declined to answer further questions.
Prosecutors asked for life imprisonment for her.
– Mohamed Bakkali, 35 –
The Belgian-Moroccan national, who was arrested two weeks after the Paris bloodbath, is suspected of providing logistical assistance such as renting safe houses and cars, providing forged identity documents and helping to repatriate IS fighters from Syria .
He was previously sentenced to 25 years in prison in Belgium for his role in an attack on a high-speed train bound for Paris that injured two passengers.
He was handed over to the French authorities on condition that he return to Belgium to serve his sentence.
On Monday, the last day of the hearings, he apologized to the victims.
– Muhammed Usman, 29, and Adel Haddidi, 34 –
Usman of Pakistan and Haddidi of Algeria were arrested in Greece while traveling with two jihadists who blew themselves up outside the national sports stadium in Paris.
According to prosecutors, the couple tried to disguise themselves as refugees in the mass of people coming from Syria via Turkey to Europe and to take part in the attacks on Paris.
“I’m working on myself. In the future, I want to do something good with my life,” said Haddidi in his closing statement.
– Yassine Atar, 35 –
He is the younger brother of the man believed to have overseen the entire operation in Syria: Oussama Atar, a veteran jihadist.
Prosecutors detailed his meetings with key suspects and his family connections to the Islamic State cell in Brussels, as well as how a key to a hiding place in his home was found.
“I hope you understood that I have absolutely nothing to do with Oussama Atar and have nothing to do with these attacks, which I strongly condemn,” he said in his closing statement.
The court had previously heard how Belgian authorities had issued his older brother a passport in 2013 despite known ties to radical Islamism in a possible attempt to recruit him as a spy.
The elder Atar is also on trial but is presumed dead in Syria or Iraq.
– The friends’ –
Five friends and acquaintances of Abdeslam and Abrini are on trial for helping the main suspects.
Mohammed Amri (33), Hamza Attou (28) and Ali Oulkadi (37) picked Abdeslam up from Paris after the attacks but denied knowing about his involvement.
Haddad Asufi, 36, and Abdellah Chouaa, 41, have been charged with allegedly helping Bakkali and Abrini.
– Other –
Ali El Haddad Asufi, 36: Belgian-Moroccan suspected of supplying arms.
Farid Kharkhach, 39: Belgian-Moroccan suspected of supplying forged identity documents.
Ahmad Alkhald, age unknown: aka Omar Darif, a Syrian, presumed dead, accused of making the suicide belts.
Jean-Michel and Fabien Clain, 38 and 41: notorious jihadist brothers from south-west France who claim responsibility for the attacks in an IS video. Probably dead in Syria.
Ahmed Dahmani, 33: A friend of Abdeslam’s is wanted for logistical help. In prison in Turkey.
Obeida Aref Dibo, age unknown: believed dead Syrian IS member, probably planner.
#Paris #Assassination #Trial #Suspects