Salah Abdeslam Wraps Up His Testimony

Salah Abdeslam is the sole surviving member of the leadership team of the Islamic terrorists who carried out the deadly attacks in Paris in November of 2015. Between Wednesday and Friday of last week, Mr. Abdeslam concluded his testimony in his terrorism trial in Paris.

Below are two articles about the testimony at the trial. Many thanks to Gary Fouse for the translations:

The first article, from France24, concerns Wednesday’s testimony:

At the November 13 trial, Salah Abdeslam, for the first time, recounts his night of wandering

April 13, 2022

The only survivor of the November 13 commandos, Salah Abdeslam, on Wednesday at his trial for the first time told of his evening in detail. The accused, who had claimed on several occasions, that his belt had not functioned, now maintains that he “renounced” blowing himself up out of “humanity”.

“I am going to explain myself because it’s the last time I might have the chance to do so.” During his final interrogation at the November 13 attacks trial, Salah Abdeslam, for the first time, on Wednesday April 13 recounted in detail his version of the events.

The previous time the only surviving member of the commandos had refused to answer questions, invoking his right to do so. “It’s because I didn’t feel I was listened to,” he told the president of the special criminal court in Paris, Jean-Louis Peries.

He “promises nothing”, but this time will say much about his “mission”, “the objective” which was assigned to him on November 13, 2015, the night that would produce 130 deaths in Paris and Saint-Denis.

“I go into this café (in the 18th arrondissement of Paris), I order a drink, I look at the people around me, and I tell myself, ‘No, I’m not going to do it,” Salah Abdeslam relates over a few minutes, dressed in a blue and white-striped polo shirt and a dark vest.

Return to Belgium or blow himself up

I saw the people laughing, dancing, and I understood that I wasn’t going to do it,” the 32-year-old Frenchman adds. After having “backed out”, he got back into the car with which he had transported the three kamikazes to the Stadium of France. “I drive, I drive, I drive,” but then the car “breaks down”.

“With an explosive belt, I am burning up,” Salah Abdeslam continues, very verbose in the dock. “Two solutions offered themselves to me: Either I return to Belgium, or I go all the way and blow myself up.”

He says he wandered around in Paris, called “everybody” to come and get him, but, “it’s totally unexpected,” the “shock”. He then takes a taxi to the south of the capital. He gets rid of the belt at Montrouge and walks to Chatillon, where he will be picked up early in the morning of November 14 by two Belgian “friends”, today his co-defendants.

Salah Abdeslam maintained that he didn’t join the attack plan in Paris until the “last moment”, on November 11, 2015, and that he did not know the details, just that he was to “blow himself up.”

“It’s a shock for me. I was supposed to leave for Syria,” the principal defendant states, behind his black beard. “I would finally agree.”

The chief judge Jean-Louis Peries tries to learn more. “I know what I myself was supposed to do,” the accused maintains. “My brother, (Brahim, future attacker of cafés — Ed.), had a belt, a Kalashnikov, I knew that he was going to shoot, I know that he was going to blow himself up, but I didn’t know the targets.”

“Did you know there were cafes, a concert hall?” the president asks. “No, no,” replies Salah Abdeslam dismissively.

“I backed out due to humanity, not out of fear”

The court recalls that he told several of his friends he had failed in his mission because the belt had not functioned.

“That was a lie that I couldn’t rid myself of all during my flight. Then I just accepted it as a reality,” he claims.

To the other members of the jihadist cell, he was ashamed to tell the truth. But “I backed out due to humanity, not out of fear,” Salah Abdeslam would later claim.

He “didn’t dare to do it, that’s all,” his boyhood friend, Mohamed Abrini, who believes that the defective belt is “a Hollywood version” of the story, had testified before him.

Shortly before 8:00pm, Chief Judge Peries turns to the court. “We should perhaps stop here for the evening…”. A big smile from the witness box from Salah Abdeslam: “With me, you never know what to expect. Sometimes, I talk, sometimes I don’t talk…”

The chief judge was to suspend the hearing one hour later. The interrogation of Salah Abdeslam will resume Thursday, in the latter part of the afternoon.

The second article, from the Belgian French-language daily La Libre, reports on Friday’s concluding testimony:

Salah Abdeslam cracks at the trial of the Paris attacks. “I want to offer my condolences and my apologies to all the victims”

The final interrogation of Salah Abdeslam continued Friday in front of the criminal court of Paris in the November 13 attacks trial.

April 15, 2022

After recounting his evening of November 13 on Wednesday and Thursday, and responding to the questions of the Court and interested parties, the principal suspect of the attacks addressed himself one last time to the victims on Friday. In tears, Salah Abdeslam offer his condolences and apologies to the victims of the attacks.

“I want to offer my condolences and my apologies to all the victims, the 32-year-old Frenchman declared from the dock, tears on his cheeks. “I know that the hate remains […] I ask you today to detest me with moderation.”

“I ask you to forgive me,” he stated.

The final interrogation of Salah Abdeslam had begun early Wednesday evening before the special criminal court of Paris and continued Thursday. It concluded Friday afternoon with questions from the defense. The principal defendant maintained throughout the three days that he was supposed to blow himself up in a bar in the 18th arrondissement, but that he had “backed out” at the location after seeing the young people who looked like him and were having a good time.

Questioned by his lawyer, Olivia Ronen, Salah Abdeslam also stated that he did not “regret” finally backing out of blowing himself up on the evening of November 13. “Do you regret not having the courage to go all the way?” Attorney Olivia Ronen, one of his lawyers, asked him. “I do not regret it, I didn’t kill these people, and I am not dead,” he replies. “I tell myself…if they only knew what they just missed.”

It was in invoking the suffering of his mother that he began to cry. “I would like to say today that this story of November 13 is written with the blood of the victims. It is their story, and I played a part. They are connected to me, and I am connected to them,” Salah Abdeslam continues, his voice trembling, before presenting his apologies.

He also asked the three defendants on trial for aiding in his escape after the attacks to “forgive” him. “I didn’t want to drag them into this,” One of them, who is not in custody, then leaves the courtroom, his eyes filled with tears.

“I know this will not heal you,” Salah Abdeslam concludes, black beard and dressed in a grey sweatshirt. “But if this can do you any good, if I have been able to do good to just one victim, then for me, that is a victory.”

“That is all I have to say,” then addressing his attorney. The chief judge, Jean-Louis Peries, suspends the hearing. In the courtroom, no reaction on the sparse benches.

Mixed reactions from victims

“It’s a surprise,” George Salines reacts outside, whose daughter was killed in the Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris, and who seems shaken. Forgiveness, “it’s important that he asks for it… we will think about it.”

“I think he was sincere,” says Cedric, for his part, a survivor of the attacks, who stresses, however, the “paradoxical” character of Salah Abdeslam, an “unfinished” jihadist, who seems to regret what he did while being unable to condemn the actions of the other commandos or of the Islamic State group.

“Each has his own view of this testimony and his analysis of these tears. Neither my clients nor I were moved by this exercise of style,” reacted Attorney Gerard Chemla, the lawyer for some 100 victims.

In this “constructed and polished speech”, he “cried for himself and his friends, not for the victims,” he added.

At the beginning of the day, a lawyer for the civil parties had reminded Salah Abdeslam that he had complained about the “erroneous image” applied to him. So, “how would you like to be remembered?”

“I don’t want to be remembered,” Salah Abdeslam had responded. “I want to be forgotten forever. I did not choose to be who I am today.”

Previous posts about the trial of Salah Abdeslam:

2021   Sep   8   The Bataclan Mujahid Goes on Trial
    Nov   6   Salah Abdeslam on Trial
2022   Mar   16   Salah Abdeslam on Trial, Continued
        30   Salah Abdeslam on Trial: The Latest
    Apr   4   Salah Abdeslam Starts Talking

One thought on “Salah Abdeslam Wraps Up His Testimony

  1. I don’t believe anything this muslim has said.
    It’s shameful that there is no capital punishment in any European country.

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