The main suspect after the 2015 Paris terrorist attack refused for several years to say anything to investigators. Aside from a few tantrums during the early days of the trial, he was calm.
In France, there was great excitement over whether he would explain himself about the bloody attacks in which 130 people were killed.
He spoke today as the system of the fourteen defendants who appear before the court in Paris. Many others denied knowledge of the terrorist plots and some condemned the atrocities. But Abdeslam calmly explained why the plans were being made.
When asked why France was attacked, he replied that the attackers had nothing personal against “these people over there”.
The same pain inflicted on us
We targeted France and no one else. The French planes that bombed ISIS in Syria made no difference to the men, women or children. We have caused the same pain to France, he said calmly and looking directly at the judge.
He insisted that the defendants were “true Muslims” and followers of “true Islam”.
Several of the audience cried and hugged each other while he was explaining himself, AFP reported.
Abdeslam went on to say that then-President Francois Hollande knew the risks he was taking when he authorized attacks on ISIS. Holland will later testify at the trial, which is expected to last for nine months.
“Trial of the Century”
French media refer to the operation as “Trial of the Century”. Among the 20 accused, 14 appeared in court. Five other defendants are considered dead, and the last of them is in prison in Turkey.
Gunmen wearing explosive vests attacked six bars, restaurants, the Bataclan concert hall and the area outside the football stadium in Paris in November 2015. They killed 130 and wounded hundreds more. The prosecution stated that the attacks were orchestrated in Syria. The Islamic State later claimed responsibility for them.
32-year-old French-Moroccan Abdeslam is believed to be the only survivor of the group behind the coordinated attacks.
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