Sarah Abdeslam, one of the masterminds behind the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris, could have been captured two days after the attacks if it wasn’t for a law that prevents overnight raids.
Belgian authorities had strong indications that Europe’s most wanted man was in an apartment in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek two days after attack. Koen Geens, Belgium’s justice minister, told reporters Wednesday that police were unable to capture Abdeslam because of a law that prevents raids from taking place between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., unless a crime is in progress.
Abdeslam was nowhere to be seen when police searched the apartment at 5 a.m., and he is now believed to have made his way to Syria.
Belgium’s Interior Minister Jan Jambon further revealed that Abdeslam was just minutes away from getting caught hours after the attack at a checkpoint on the border of France and Belgium.
“Policemen checked his ID but it wasn’t in the database. We were simply unlucky,” Jambon told Belgian broadcaster VTM Wednesday. “If he would have passed 15 minutes later, there would have been a match in the database.”
Abdeslam was supposed to detonate a suicide vest as part of the attacks but got cold feet. His vest was found in a bin a week later.
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