The main defendant in the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks trial said the Islamic State network that struck the city was attacking France and the deaths of 130 people were “nothing personal”.
Dressed in black and refusing to remove his black mask, Salah Abdeslam was the last of 14 defendants in the custom-built courtroom to speak.
Nine gunmen and suicide bombers from the Islamic State group shot down minutes apart in several locations around Paris on November 13, 2015, starting at the National Football Stadium and ending with a bloodbath inside. the Bataclan concert hall. It was the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II and one of the worst terrorist attacks to hit the West.
Abdeslam is the only survivor of this cell, most of the members of which were French or Belgian. He fled the city after throwing away his faulty suicide vest. The two people he called to drive from Brussels to Paris at night and pick him up are among the 20 men on trial. Six are tried in absentia.
Abdeslam said the attack was revenge for French airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
“We fought France, we attacked France, we targeted the civilian population. It had nothing personal against them, ”Abdeslam said. “I know my statement may be shocking, but it is not about sticking the knife deeper into the wound, but about being sincere with those who suffer immeasurable grief.
The same network hit Brussels airport and metro in March 2016, killing 32 other people. Mohammed Abrini, also on trial in Paris, left Paris the day before the November 2015 attack but took part in the Brussels attack. He acknowledged his role on Wednesday.
“In this evil which occurred in France, I am neither the commander nor the architect. I did not provide any logistical or financial assistance, ”Abrini said.