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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

2015 Paris Attacks Trial: Main Suspect Calls Himself “Islamic State Soldier”

Before the trial, survivors and relatives of the victims had said they were impatient to hear testimony that might help them better understand what happened and why it did so

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Divya Dhadd
Divya Dhadd
Journalist

FRANCE. Paris: The only surviving member and the main suspect in a jihadist rampage behind the 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people, says he is “an Islamic State soldier.”

Salah Abdeslam and 19 other defendants are being tried in Paris over the series of coordinated terrorist attacks on Friday 13 November that started at a football stadium.

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The trial, which is expected to last nine months, began on Wednesday.

Abdeslam described himself defiantly as “an Islamic State soldier” on Wednesday in Paris court, upsetting some survivors who took it as a threat at the start of the trial into the 2015 attacks. 

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“I gave up my job to become an Islamic State soldier.”

Victor Edou, a lawyer for eight Bataclan survivors, said Abdeslam’s statement was “very violent.”

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“Some of my clients are not doing too well…after hearing a statement that they took as a new, direct threat,” he said. “It’s going to be like that for nine months.”

Jean-Pierre Albertini, whose 39-year old son, Stephane, was killed in the Bataclan, told Reuters the reference to being an Islamic State soldier meant “we have in front of us … someone who is at war.”

Thierry Mallet, a Bataclan survivor, said: “I need more to be shocked … I’m not afraid.”

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Salah Abdeslam, 31, appeared in court dressed in black and wearing a black face mask, one of 20 men accused of involvement in the gun-and-bomb attacks on six restaurants and bars, the Bataclan concert hall and a sports stadium.  

Abdeslam is believed to be the only surviving member of the group that carried out the attacks. The other suspects are accused of helping to provide guns and cars or playing a role in organising the attacks, in which hundreds were also injured.

Asked by the court’s top judge to give his name, Abdeslam used the Shahada, an Islamic oath, saying: “I want to testify that there is no god except Allah and that Mohammad is his servant.”

The trial involves nearly 1,800 plaintiffs and more than 300 lawyers in what Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti called an unprecedented judicial marathon. The court’s top judge, Jean-Louis Peries, said it was a historic trial.

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