1 – Abd al-Salam al-Mutanaqqad
An “Islamic State fighter” or a tortured convict who wants forgiveness for “all the victims”? Over the nine-month trial, Salah Abdeslam, the “tenth-man” commando for the November 13 attacks, was distinguished by his inconsistency.
On September 8, 2021, as soon as the criminal hearing opened, his vengeful tone was in the box. With his beard and black shirt, he flatly declared that he “has given up any profession to become a fighter for the Islamic State.” On April 15, 2022, her voice was so soft and crisp, tears even rolled down her face. For his “last chance” to speak, he reiterated that he had given up detonating his explosive belt “out of humanity.” He asked the victims to “hate him in moderation”.
Is this shift a defensive strategy as we suspect in the civilian party seats, or a real development after weeks of wrangling?
2 Abriny, the man in the hat
After Salah Abdeslam, is the other defendant who is “known” to the general public: Mohamed Abrini, a 37-year-old Belgian, is the “man in the hat” whose photo was taken by video surveillance at Brussels Airport in Brussels. March 2016, Bob hits his head and pushes a wagon of explosives left before he escapes.
Speaking during the interrogation, he was just as much before the Special Assize Court in Paris, and his ornate, unfiltered speech sometimes made his lawyers turn pale. They described Mohamed Abrini as a “spontaneous” person.
In a somewhat disciplined dock, he is one of the few who has lost his temper: because he was forbidden to speak with his childhood “friend” Salah Abdeslam, against these “handicapped” gendarmes, or to shout, when the attackers were bullied by the lawyers of the civil parties, when “They did nothing.”
We told him at the hearing rather tactfully: Mohamed Abrini, with a blank look sometimes, could be tempted to say “anything” when he was “in the fog.”
However, he is the author of one of the rare “revelations” about the trial. “I will tell you, I was scheduled for November 13,” the person who “accepts everything” was fired from the Islamic State, but would not be “able” to take part in an attack and ended up surrendering. Twice, in Paris, then in Brussels.
3 – Karim, Ayari and Al-Samit grocers
In November, the court released an ISIS propaganda video showing a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage in Syria. Among the masked soldiers who attended the execution, we discovered the dark appearance of Osama Karim, recognized by the scar on his eyebrow.
This trial is just an illusion
In the face of these pictures, the 29-year-old Swede, Salah Abdeslam’s companion in Brussels, did not show any emotion. Nothing appeared during this trial.
The few times we saw him in court – he refused to appear for months – he remained seated, his head bowed, his long black hair partially concealing his face. To ask questions on the subject of the case, he systematically opposed his right to silence. At first, I thought about expressing myself before this court. Then I saw how the discussions were going and I lost hope. Everyone is pretending. This trial is just an illusion,” he wrote in January.
He is suspected of wanting to carry out an attack at Amsterdam airport on November 13, 2015, along with co-defendant Sofian Ayari. But this suspicion remains shrouded in mystery because the latter also refused to answer questions. But the 28-year-old Tunisian made an exception, in February listing his commitment as a soldier in the Islamic State.
Lui qui avait dit que seules « les larmes » de sa mère auraient pu empêcher son départ en Syrie a été touché par les mots à la barre d’une mère de victime qui avait souhaité « comprendre » cetait qui passé sé head.” “The least you can do is explain.”
The accused, with his shaved head and big beard, impressed everyone with his subtle language.
For people like me, hope is dangerous
The frustration was even greater when he then announced that he would no longer answer questions about the attacks in Paris and Brussels, for which he would be judged from the fall. “I will defend myself for two years like relentless, in the end, I fall behind by 80. For people like me, hope is dangerous.”
A third mute at trial made the same arguments. The suspected logistician, Mohamed El-Baqali, was already sentenced to 25 years in prison in the case of the failed attack on Thales (he filed an appeal), in which he defended himself with his teeth and nails. “I fought. I was judged hard for something I didn’t do, it broke me,” explained the 35-year-old Belgian-Moroccan. “I no longer have the strength.”
4 good friends of Abdul Salam
They went to search for Salah Abdeslam in Paris on the night of November 13, or helped him start his escape. Without “at any time” suspecting that he was involved in the attacks, Mohammed Al-Omari (above), Hamza Atto and Ali Olkady, three friends from the Molenbeek district of Brussels, among whom were several accused, swore an oath. The former appears to be under arrest; The other two are free.
“It’s the fault of my life,” said Mohamed Omari, 33, in a hushed voice slowed by years of heavy cannabis use. “Palely shocked,” Hamza Atto, a 21-year-old pet merchant, confirmed that he had not thought of denouncing him.
“If you had not decided to call me on that day, I wouldn’t be here. These are lives wasted for nothing,” Olkady, on the verge of crying, shot me Olkady for Salah Abdeslam.
Other “good friends” who only “helped”: Ali Al-Haddad Asoufi and Abdullah Shuaa, the latter also appearing free.
The first is high school friend Brahim El Bakraoui, chief logistics officer of the November 13 attacks and future suicide bomber of the Brussels attacks, with whom he made questionable trips before the attacks.
The second, elegant-looking little glasses, and at that time insatiable consumer of dating sites, he was above all a “party” friend of Mohamed Abrini. Abdullah Shuaa is on trial for taking him to the airport upon his return from Syria.
5 “The Fish”
Farid Kharkach, 39, with his hair mixed up in a bun to mask stress-related alopecia, is the only one who doesn’t know any of the other defendants.
At the session, he detailed a large number of “jinxes” that pervaded his life, as well as the phobias that made his arrest a living hell. Then, these fake identification papers he made, before “falling off his chair” when he found out they were for the attacks.
Another gossip that tends to get lost in the details: Yassin Attar, 35 years old. “I want everyone to know everything about me. Let everyone understand who I am, that I am innocent and in good faith,” he apologized to the court.
Gel in poetry, he says is more of a jet-ski fan than a jihadist, he leaves with a serious family handicap: he’s the little brother of the attacks’ sponsor Osama Attar, and the cousin of the El Bakraoui brothers, the logisticians and suicide bombers from the Brussels attacks. He said that was all that connected him to the case.
6 the forgotten
We haven’t heard their voices since January and we’ve been forgetting they’re there – snoozing on the box benches.
The Pakistani Muhammad Othman and the Algerian Adel Haddadi had taken the Al-Muhajireen route with two suicide bombers from the Stade de France and were, according to the accusation, among the commandos. But they were caught in Greece.
So they were only questioned once about the merits of the lawsuit through interpreters.
Muhammed Othman, who is fat and shaved, denied that he had spent ten years in a Pakistani jihadist group and infuriated the court by claiming that he only “read the Qur’an” in an apartment while living in Islamic State territory.
As for his “mission” in France, neither he nor his co-accused with thick glasses, Adel Haddadi, will “help” him, and he said saying no to the sponsors, would provide the details.
7 absentee greats
“The eleven here in the box, nothing! Those who made on November 13, they are no longer there,” Mohammed Abrini released, after attacking him with questions he insisted he had no answers to.
Five of the Islamic State’s top leaders are being tried in absentia, starting with the shepherd Osama Atar, but their names and backgrounds are mentioned very little at the hearing.
In addition to the director, the main manufacturer of the jihadi cell is Ahmed Al-Khald (the pseudonym of the Syrian Omar Al-Darif), who was to make the explosive belts and left Belgium shortly before the attacks; Obeida Aref Dibo, another Syrian executive for “Outside Operations,” and brothers Fabien and Jean-Michel Klein, “voice” the audio allegations of the Paris attacks. They are presumably killed in Western strikes in Syria.
Finally, Ahmed Dahmani, a 33-year-old Belgian-Moroccan and close friend of Salah Abdeslam, is accused of helping to prepare for the attacks. But he fled on November 14, 2015 to Turkey, where he was sentenced in 2016 to ten years in prison and imprisonment. He is still held there.