These were the bloodiest attacks in France since World War II. The trial of those accused of complicity in the 2015 attacks in Paris began on Wednesday. The dock includes Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the terrorist cell that carried out the attacks. He said in court that he had quit his job to “become a soldier of the Islamic State.”
The attacks of 2015 caused a deep trauma in French society.
Attacks in Paris. 130 people were killed
A special jury in Paris will try the accused of complicity in the attacks, including Salah Abdeslama, the only surviving member of a group led by terrorists from the so-called Islamic State (IS) who killed 130 people and injured more than 350 in Paris and nearby Saint-Denis on November 13, 2015.
Suicide bombers blew themselves up at the Stade de France, terrorists fired machine guns on the terraces of six restaurants and cafes in the 10th and 11th arrondissements of the capital, and massacred at a music club Bataclan.
The attacks started around 9 PM. There were three explosions and six shootings in quick succession. The explosions took place at the Stade de France in the northern part of Saint-Denis near Paris. The bloodiest attack took place at the Bataclan club, where the bombers took hostages and clashed with the police. Officers stormed the club.
On November 14, the so-called Islamic State confirmed its participation in the attacks. The then French president, Francois Hollande, called it “an act of war” and introduced a state of emergency.
“I quit my job to become a soldier of the Islamic State”
On the first day of the trial Salah Abdeslam He appeared in court dressed in black and with a black mask over his face. Asked about his profession, he took off his mask and told the Parisian court: “I quit my job to become a soldier of the Islamic State.”
When asked by the judge to give his name, Abdeslam used the shahadah, the Islamic profession of faith, saying, “I want to testify that there is no god but Allah and that Mohammad is his servant.”
Later, for two minutes he shouted that the accused were treated “like dogs” – BFM TV reported, adding that someone from the place where the victims and relatives of the victims are sitting shouted back: – You bastard, 130 people have been killed.
Victor Edou, a lawyer for eight Bataclan survivors, said earlier that Abdeslam’s statement that he was an Islamic State soldier was “very aggressive.” “Some of my clients are not doing very well … after hearing statements they perceived as a new, immediate threat,” he said. “It will be like this for nine months,” he added.
Others have stated that they try not to attach much importance to the suspect’s words.
It is the largest criminal trial ever organized in France. The indictment is 348 pages long. Experts, officials, politicians and even former President Hollande are to testify. The verdict is expected on May 24 or 25, 2022.
The indictment focuses, among others, on on the genesis of the attacks. “According to the information collected by the French and foreign services, the Islamic State created in 2014 a structure designated for planning and organizing terrorist attacks abroad,” it wrote.
From 2014 to August 2015, this operational unit prepared a large-scale terrorist attack, having its own logistics base, including in Belgium, formed by the El Bakraoui brothers and cousins of the head of the terrorist cell. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, known to the Belgian services since 2014, was to be the leader of the terrorists and the attacks carried out on November 13.
“Abaaoud has been involved in numerous criminal projects, all of which have failed due to either the perpetrators being unprepared or being arrested prematurely by the police,” the indictment said.
Terrorists were transported with false Belgian ID cards from Hungary or Germany to Belgium by Abdeslam and hidden in premises rented by a Belgian cell.
From September 1 to October 14, 2015, at least 12 Syrian jihadists arrived in Belgium in five groups and moved to four hideouts, investigators found. During this time, terrorists were collecting weapons and explosives.
The targets of the attacks were set a few days before the attacks, and the final stage of preparations was the rental of cars and hiding places in the Ile-de-France region of Paris and the purchase of telephones. Further terrorist attacks in France were aimed at targeting the Saint-Cyr military academy, military high schools, a Catholic youth association, a bar in Brussels, schools in Belgium and “dozens of nurseries”, investigators reported.
Maximum security measures
During the days of the trial, the head of the French Ministry of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, ordered that maximum security measures be maintained in connection with the still high terrorist threat in the country.
14 defendants will face a Paris court during the trial, and six (including five presumed dead) will be tried in absentia.
Three of the accused remain at large under judicial supervision. Twelve of the 20 accused face life imprisonment. Abdeslam, previously tried for the shooting shortly before his arrest in Belgium in 2016, remains silent. “I am not afraid of you, I am not afraid of your allies, your associates, I trust Allah and that’s all, I have nothing to add,” he said in court.
Main photo source: Reuters