Paris Attack Mastermind Backed Out Of Blowing Himself Up Last Minute

REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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The terrorist believed to be behind the plot which killed 130 people in Paris last November admitted to police this weekend he backed out of blowing himself up during the attacks, changing his mind at the last second.

Salah Abdeslam was captured by police during a raid in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek Friday. French prosecutor Francois Molins said Abdeslam confessed to his involvement in the attacks while in custody, but cautioned his statements would need to be confirmed.

“Salah Abdesalam today, during questioning by investigators, affirmed that, and I quote, ‘he wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France and that he had backed down,'” said Molins to reporters Saturday.

An abandoned explosive suicide belt believed to have belonged to Abdeslam was found by officials in a garbage bin shortly after the attacks.

Abdeslam had been on the run from authorities for four months before he was captured in a joint Belgian-French operation. He was nearly captured Tuesday when he and an accomplice where involved in a firefight with police, killing the accomplice. Molins said the process to extradite Abdeslam would take no more than three months, though he noted the terrorist may fight the proceedings.

“Salah Abdeslam is a key actor in the attacks in Paris and St. Denis [Stade de France]. He had a central role in the make-up of the commandos and in the logistical planning of the 13 November attacks,” said Molins Saturday.

It is believed Abdeslam engaged in much of the preparation for the Nov. 13 operation which killed 130 in Paris. He was allegedly responsible for traveling to various European countries recruiting members for the operation on behalf of Islamic State, renting two vehicles used during the attacks and obtaining 12 remote detonators and 15 liters of peroxide used to make explosives.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls hailed Abdeslam’s capture as a success, but warned the terror threat to France was “as high as, if not higher than, we had before 13 November.”

“Other networks, other cells, other individuals in France and in Europe are getting organized to prepare new attacks. We must remain mobilized at a national as well as European level,” warned Valls.

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