Trial of November 13: these 3 questions about Salah Abdeslam

Among the 20 accused of the trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015, he is the one to whom all eyes will be directed. The only survivor of the terrorists who participated in the attacks, Salah Abdeslam keeps many secrets and information with him.

When should he be interviewed?

If the trial opens this Wednesday, September 8, the first major meeting of the Franco-Moroccan in front of the court is scheduled for January 13 and 14, 2022. Either in four months. This will be his first factual questioning. Then, over the course of the hearings and the course of the trial, the magistrates will question him on several occasions, during the months of February and March. At that time, the questions will be more specific to the preparation of the attacks and the other defendants will also be asked.

Will he speak?

This is one of the major questions of this trial. Will Salah Abdeslam finally speak? Since his arrest on March 18, 2016 in Belgium, he has always walled in silence in the face of investigators. During a previous trial, in Brussels, in April 2018, where he received a 20-year prison sentence for a shooting against police officers a few days before his arrest, he had not answered any questions.

In front of the court, he had affirmed: “my silence does not make me a criminal, it is my defense”. Then, his rare words had been to criticize the judicial system and to recite the shahada, the Muslim profession of faith. “I testify that there is no other deity than Allah and that Mohammad is his prophet”, he had thus expressed himself, before concluding, addressing the judge: “I did not afraid of you, neither of your allies, nor of your associates. I place my trust in my lord ”. He hadn’t said anything else.

Many people fear that the terrorist will reoffend in Paris. His lawyer, Me Olivia Ronen, has not revealed anything about the strategy that will be adopted.

According to Le Figaro, Salah Abdeslam would already be very little talkative in the cell. He would have walled himself in prayer and spoke extremely little. At most, a few banal sentences with his supervisors. Not enough to reassure the very many people who hope for answers.

What could he reveal?

The only living member of the various groups that sowed death in Saint-Denis and Paris on November 13, 2015, Salah Abdeslam logically holds a lot of information on the events. He is the one who went to pick up the jihadists on their arrival in Europe from Syria, the one who rented cars used to come to France, the one who booked the Alfortville aparthotel where they stayed, or the one who would have bought the material to make the explosives. The questions on the organization of the attacks, but also on their planned course, on the role of each terrorist, or on the reasons for having targeted terraces and a concert hall are therefore not lacking, if he were to speak. .

The prisoner has nevertheless already delivered some – meager – information since his capture. He thus explained to Belgian investigators, the day after his arrest, having intended to blow himself up at the Stade de France, before giving up. His abandoned explosive vest having been examined and declared defective, another question is whether he tried to activate it, to no avail, or whether he himself decided not to go through with it. According to his two friends who came to pick him up the night of the attacks to bring him back to Belgium, he assured them both that he wanted to explode in a cafe, before going back, but also that he had complained of the non-functioning of its detonator. There again, only the words of Salah Abdeslam will allow to know what really happened.

The questions to understand his radicalization, when he is described as a Muslim who drank, went out or gambled in the casino, could also prove to be very instructive. But once again, the possibility of getting answers seems slim.

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