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Suicide bomber ISIS says he didn’t blow himself up in Paris attack after seeing victims in bar

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Salah Abdeslam

The lone survivor of the ISIS terror cell that killed 130 people in Paris seven years ago has told a court he has changed his mind about continuing his suicide bombing after seeing his victims in a crowded bar.

Salah Abdeslam, 32, one of 10 jihadists who attacked bars and restaurants in the French capital in November 2015, faces multiple life sentences on charges including mass murder and hostage-taking.

The French-Moroccan national told the court he failed to detonate his suicide vest after seeing people in a Paris bar.

“The goal I was given was to go to a cafe in the 18th arrondissement in the north of Paris,” Abdeslam told the purpose-built Paris court hearing the case.

“I go to the cafe, I order a drink, I look at the people around me – and I said to myself, ‘No, I’m not going to do it,'” he added.

“I gave up, I left, I took the car.”

Prosecutors allege that Abdeslam’s explosive vest malfunctioned and that he then ran away from the French capital in the hours following the terror attack.

The terrorists killed 130 people in suicide bombings and shootings at the Stade de France stadium, the Bataclan concert hall and on the street terraces of bars and restaurants on November 13, 2015, in France’s worst peacetime atrocity.

The terrorists killed 130 people in suicide bombings and shootings at the Stade de France stadium, the Bataclan concert hall and on the street terraces of bars and restaurants on November 13, 2015, in France's worst peacetime atrocity.  Pictured: Rescuers tend to the injured outside Le Carillon restaurant after the terror attack

The terrorists killed 130 people in suicide bombings and shootings at the Stade de France stadium, the Bataclan concert hall and on the street terraces of bars and restaurants on November 13, 2015, in France’s worst peacetime atrocity. Pictured: Rescuers tend to the injured outside Le Carillon restaurant after the terror attack

Abdeslam said he was told about the plans for the November 11 terrorist attack in Paris, two days before they were carried out.

This happened during a meeting in Charleroi, Belgium, with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who is accused of being the mastermind behind the ISIS attacks.

Abdeslam told the court he thought he would be sent to Syria. Instead, he was told that he had been selected to carry out an attack with an explosive belt.

“He told me I blew myself up and that was a shock,” Abdeslam said. ‘But he finally convinced me.

“In the end I accepted and said, ‘Okay, I’ll go through with it.'”

Abdeslam claimed he was not given any details about the targets for the attack.

“I’m going to explain myself because this is the last time I can,” Abdeslam continued on Thursday. “I’m going to do my best, I’m going to do my best,” he said, bemoaning his role in the media.

When Abdeslam ultimately didn’t go through with the attack, he told the court how he took his car and drove randomly around Paris until it broke down.

Then he got out and walked, he said, and said his memories of that period were “confused.”

The French-Moroccan national told the court he failed to detonate his suicide vest after seeing people in a Paris bar.  Pictured: A court sketch of Abdeslam on the first day of his trial in September 2021

The French-Moroccan national told the court he failed to detonate his suicide vest after seeing people in a Paris bar. Pictured: A court sketch of Abdeslam on the first day of his trial in September 2021

Under pressure from the court president, Jean-Louis Peries, Abdeslam only said he knew what to do.

“My brother, he had a belt, a Kalashnikov, I know he’s going to open fire, I know he’s going to blow himself up, but I didn’t know the targets.”

Abdeslam’s older brother Brahim opened fire on a cafe terrace before blowing himself up.

Earlier in the courtroom, another defendant, Mohamed Abrini, said Abdeslam simply did not have the nerve to go through with the attack.

Abrini, who is accused of providing weapons and logistical support to the attackers, said he saw Abdeslam when he turned up at a hiding place a day after the attacks.

“He was exhausted, tired, he looked pale,” Abrini said.

One of the organizers of the attacks had yelled at him for not blowing himself up.

“I think he told them his belt wasn’t working,” Abrini said.

Abdeslam told the court last month that he had in fact lied about the outage.

After surviving the attack, Abdeslam fled to the Molenbeek district of Brussels where he grew up. He was captured in March 2016.

After surviving the attack, Abdeslam fled to the Molenbeek district of Brussels where he grew up.  He was captured in March 2016 (pictured)

After surviving the attack, Abdeslam fled to the Molenbeek district of Brussels where he grew up. He was captured in March 2016 (pictured)

Abdeslam was part of the ISIS terror cell that attacked the national sports stadium Stade de France, six restaurants and bars and the Bataclan music hall.

He is now one of 20 defendants – some being tried in absentia because they are believed to have died in Syria – and face a variety of charges ranging from providing logistical support to planning the attacks and supplying weapons.

The massive legal process, the largest in French history, began in September.

Abdeslam, who ran his own bar in Brussels, was speaking in a purpose-built courthouse in the French capital on Thursday as his high-profile trial drew to a close.

In previous hearings, he had described himself as a “soldier with Islamic State” despite regularly drinking alcohol and selling alcohol.

Days after his arrest in March 2016, after a four-month manhunt that ended in a gunfight in Brussels, suicide bombers, believed to be part of the same cell, struck at the city’s airport and the city’s metro, killing 32 killed and hundreds injured.

Abdeslam has already been sentenced in Brussels to 20 years in prison for the shooting that accompanied his arrest.

Mohamed Abrini, Abdeslam’s 36-year-old childhood friend, is also on trial, who is believed to have traveled to the Paris region with the attackers.

Abrini was later caught on CCTV with the two bombers at Brussels airport and became known as ‘The Man in the Hat’.

The trial in Paris continues.

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