Paris – The trials that France is conducting against those accused of carrying out and coordinating the November 13 jihadist attacks shed light on Salah Abd al-Salam, who appears to be a man of contradictions. Within nine months of his trial, Abdessalam – the tenth man in the Paris attacks and on its outskirts of Saint-Denis – sparked widespread controversy and the question of whether he was an Islamic State (ISIS) fighter or a defendant. troubled apologizing to all victims?
When the criminal trial began on September 8, 2021, the vengeful tone prevailed over Abd al-Salam’s speech. “I gave up all professions to become a fighter of the Islamic State,” said the bearded man in the black shirt.
On April 15, 2022, he spoke in a calm, trembling voice, and tears rolled down the pages of the only surviving member of the armed group that killed 130 people in Paris and Saint-Denis.
At the “last chance” to speak for himself, the 32-year-old Frenchman said he had given up blasting his explosive belt “for humanitarian reasons”. He urged victims to “hate him in moderation”.
Abd al-Salam’s mission in the attacks is still a mystery, and he mentioned it once and said he wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France.
Was this change a defense strategy, as the civil prosecution suspected, or was it a real development after weeks of controversy?
His lawyers, Olivia Ronen and Martin Fitts, said that “this trial allowed him to break the prejudice we had about him that had been ingrained during the six years of silence.”
Abdul Salam – who remained silent for most of the investigation – resumed speaking in the first hearings and sometimes it was necessary to cut off the microphone to shut him up.
He used this as a way to denounce the conditions of his detention – he said, “we are treated like dogs” – or to justify the attacks. “We attacked France, we targeted the population, but there was” nothing personal, “he added. “These terrorists, they are my brothers.”
The president cut off the microphone several times.
The accused appeared provocative and rude, offering the president of the court to “take a break” or to describe himself as “sensitive”. Within a few months, Abd al-Salam did not stop talking and softened his statements.
In response to court questions in the always-filled hall, his answers were brief when he spoke of the “simple life” of the past. “I was not dancing,” said the young offender from Molenbeek in Brussels, where he frequents casinos and nightclubs.
On the night of November 13-14, 2015, he was carrying an explosive belt that did not explode. In a letter found by investigators and attributed to him, he confirmed that he wanted to “join all my brothers” and die as a “martyr”, but his explosive belt did not work.
He remained on the run for four months, despite being declared a dangerous wanted man and his photos were constantly published all over Europe.
But his pursuit ended on March 18, 2016, and he was arrested in the Cater Van neighborhood in the Molenbeek region of the Belgian capital, three days after an exchange of fire with police in Brussels.
And the man was charged in France with terrorist attacks, and he became the most monitored prisoner in France and was placed in the Fleury-Mérouge prison, south of Paris.
From his personal profile, Abd al-Salam seems to be a minor offense. He was convicted ten times of committing traffic offenses, acts of violence or attempted robbery in 2010 with his childhood friend Abdel Hamid Abaaoud, who became the coordinator of the November 13 attacks.
Some of his neighbors say he enjoyed the big holidays, drank alcohol, smoked, went to casinos and often had “girlfriends”. He did not work, but stayed in cafes, especially that of his older brother Ibrahim, who was among the attackers on the balconies of Parisian restaurants.
He prayed sometimes, but not at the right time. By the end of 2014, he started talking about Syria, and suggested to his fiancée to go there. But she did not take it seriously because he spent “three quarters of his life” in nightclubs.
However, his relatives noticed that the two brothers, Abd al-Salam, began the “Islamic State journey”; They stopped drinking alcohol and became interested in religion. At the bar run by Ibrahim, they gather to watch jihadist videos and “calls for war.”
Abdul Salam from his profile appears to be a minor offense and has been convicted ten times for committing traffic violations or acts of violence.
In January 2015, police announced Abd al-Salam’s wish to leave. In February, he was called to the police station to talk about Abaaoudin, who left for Syria, to which he replied that he was a “good man”, stressing that he had not met him for a long time.
In the same year, his travels through Europe intensified, to Greece in early August and then to Austria and Hungary, which were permeated by crowds of refugees fleeing Syria.
A few days before the attacks, he had dinner for the last time with his fiancée and cried a lot, she said, while his relatives thought he had gone skiing.
In the car that took him to Belgium on the night of November 13-14, he cried a lot because of the death of his “suicide” brother.
His exact mission remains a mystery. He mentioned it only once, shortly after his arrest. “I wanted to blow myself up at the Stade de France, but I gave up,” he said. But investigators believe his explosive belt was wrong.
And he wrote in a letter attributed to him: “I would like to be one of the martyrs (…), I just want to be better prepared for the future.”
During his trial in Belgium – where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a shootout with police before his arrest – he emerged as a staunch Islamist, as well as during his trial in France since the first day of September 8th. , 2021.