Belgium extradites key suspect in 2015 Paris terrorist attacks

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Mohamed Bakkali, 30, who is accused of knowingly offering his Brussels apartment to attackers who took part in the November 13th 2015 terrorist attacks in and around Paris which left 130 people dead, has been extradited to France, just as the Paris trial of Jawad Bendaoud, 31, continues into his alleged conspiracy with the Islamic State group cell which were housed in a property belonging to him in a suburb close to the French capital.

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Belgian authorities have extradited Mohamed Bakkali to France, a key suspect in the deadly attacks in Paris in 2015, reports BBC News.

The 30-year-old is believed to have rented the Brussels apartment used by some of the attackers.

Meanwhile, a man who lent his flat to two of the jihadists has repeated in a Paris court that he did not know them.

"No one told me that I was sheltering terrorists," said the defendant, 31-year-old Jawad Bendaoud. This is the first trial linked to the attacks that left 130 dead.

Mr Bendaoud is charged with harbouring the ringleader of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and his accomplice Chakib Akrouh in his apartment in Saint-Denis following the killings.

"I swear on the head of my son that I didn't know they were terrorists," a tearful Mr Bendaoud told a packed court.

French media said he appeared to be nervous and confused and that the hearing had some "surreal moments", including when:

The Islamic State group said it was behind the November 2015 attacks on the national stadium, bars and restaurants in the city, as well as the Bataclan concert venue.

Abaaoud, a Belgian national, was later killed in a police raid on the flat while Akrouh blew himself up.

The court will decide whether Mr Bendaoud actively conspired to help them or whether he became involved unknowingly. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison.

Two other men are also on trial - Mr Bendaoud's friend Mohamed Soumah, who is accused of acting as an intermediary, and Youssef Aitboulahcen, the brother of a woman killed in the police raid on the flat.

Mr Aitboulahcen said his sister was "psychologically unstable". She was, he added, addicted to cannabis and cocaine and drank alcohol while also wearing a full Islamic veil.

The only surviving alleged perpetrator, Salah Abdeslam, goes on trial in Belgium in February on charges relating to his arrest there in 2016. He is not expected to go on trial in France until 2020 at the earliest.

Read more of this report from BBC News.

See also:

The dark world of the Islamic State group's secret services

The threat from Islamic State's 'fifth column' in Europe

How Islamic State's secret services hunt down informers

 

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