Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving terrorist who took part in the 2015 Bataclan massacre in Paris, has declared himself a soldier of the Islamic State during the first day of his trial.
The trial for the November 13th, 2015, attacks which saw Islamic State terrorists murder 130 people and injured 350 others, began on Wednesday in the special Assize Court of Paris and is expected to last at least nine months.
At the opening of the trial, the court asked Abdeslam to verify his identity, to which he replied, according to CNews: “First of all, I want to testify that there is no god apart from Allah and that Mohammed is his messenger.”
The court then asked Abdeslam about his profession, with the Islamist responding: “I gave up any profession to become an Islamic State soldier.”
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 11, 2016
A total of 20 people, including Abdeslam, are on trial for their connections to the Bataclan massacre. Six defendants will be tried in absentia, five of who are assumed dead, and another is in Turkey, whose government refuses to extradite the suspect.
Of the 20 on trial, 12 face possible punishments of life in prison, including Abdeslam, who is the only terrorist who participated directly in the attacks. Abdeslam survived as his suicide vest, later found in a trash bin, failed to detonate.
Abdeslam is also said to have been the one who rented the cars for the terrorist group and drove three of the Islamists to the Stade de France on the night of the attacks. He is also said to have been childhood friends with the alleged mastermind of the attack Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was later killed in the suburbs of Paris just days after the massacre.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 18, 2016
November 15th saw multiple coordinated attacks that night, including suicide bombers detonating their explosive vests outside of the Stade de France just north of Paris, killing themselves and a security guard. Thirty-nine people died during three shootings at different restaurants in the 10th and 11th arrondissements (districts) of Paris. Three gunmen stormed the Bataclan concert hall, killing 90.
Following the attacks, Abdeslam, along with co-defendant Sofien Ayari, fled to Molenbeek in Brussels, Belgium, where they both hid for months after the attack. Police located Abdeslam in March 2016, and a shootout between officers and the jihadist ended in Abdeslam being taken into custody.
Abdeslam was later tried in a court in Brussels and found guilty of attempted murder for his actions during the shootout and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Ayari, who was in the apartment at the time, was also found guilty of attempted murder.
Bataclan Victims Get 85 Million Euros Compensation as ISIS Leaders Involved in Attack All Eliminated https://t.co/68kUUm04xQ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 7, 2018
Defendant Mohamed Bakkali is believed to be the main logistics man behind the Bataclan attacks and is thought to have planned the transportation and accommodation for the terrorists, including renting the apartment where the suicide bombs were allegedly manufactured.
Since his arrest, Abdeslam has reportedly claimed that he is not ashamed of his role in the terrorist attack. A 2017 report revealed that he has responded to alleged “fan mail”, with Abdeslam reportedly stating: “First of all, I’m not afraid of letting anything slip because I’m not ashamed of what I am – and then what worse could be said than what’s already been said?”
Another report in 2018 claimed that Abdeslam had regularly taken to insulting prison guards in the Fleury-Mérogis prison, with one report claiming he had said: “Why are you looking at me loser? You’re a loser, come to my cell and I’ll explain. I am a Muslim and you are infidels, dogs; one day, it will change, you will kiss my feet.”