Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect in the November 2015 terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, told a court on Wednesday that he supported and loved the ISIS terrorist group.
Abdeslam, 32, is believed by prosecutors to be the only surviving member of the ISIS cell behind the gun-and-bomb attacks on Paris’ bars, restaurants, Bataclan concert hall and the Stade de France sports stadium on Nov. 13, 2015.
In a related development and in neighboring Belgium, more than 100 police on Tuesday, raided multiple addresses around the port city of Antwerp and detained 13 people suspected of links to an extremist group, prosecutors said.
The operation was launched under the authority of anti-terror magistrates as part of a broader investigation, federal prosecutors said in a statement.
The Belgian cities of Brussels and Antwerp have been singled out in the past as alleged rear bases for international extremism.
Antwerp was the base of the extremism group Sharia4Belgium, which was founded in 2010, and several of its members went on to fight for hardline groups in Syria.
Its former leader, Fouad Belkacem, was sentenced in 2015 in Belgium to 12 years in prison, then stripped of his Belgian nationality in 2018.
Sharia4Belgium has been officially dissolved but Belgian law enforcement fears it could still be a source of inspiration for some radicals.
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015, which left 130 dead, Belgium was accused of being a rear base for international extremism.
The initial investigation revealed that several of the attackers were from the working class Brussels district Molenbeek, and that the attacks were planned there.
Belgium itself became a target after the arrest in Brussels of Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the Paris attack gang, now on trial in France.
On 22 March 2016, Brussels was hit by a double suicide bomb attack that was claimed by the ISIS terrorist group.
Bombers from the same extremist cell that attacked Paris blew themselves up at Brussels Zaventem airport and in the metro, killing 32 people and wounding 340.
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