From November 25 to December 8, the specially formed Paris Circuit heard testimony from officials of the Belgian Federal Judicial Police on the radicalization of the jihadists tried during the trial on November 13. On Tuesday, a Belgian investigator traced the process by which Salah Abdeslam asked more questions than answers. The frustration and awkward silence in the audience.
The Belgian investigation left a taste of unfinished business in the trial. The explanation provided by Belgian investigators on the route, relationship, and Salah Abdeslam (Salah Abdeslam’s radicalization) on December 7 made the audience very frustrated because they did not make them laugh or irritate them. Whether on the civil side or on the defense bench, including the press. What did Salah Abdeslam do during his trip to Greece in the summer of 2015? What happened in the bar Les Béguines in Molenbeek? Did Salah Abdeslam really not present any evidence of radicalization? When they leave the benches of the Paris court, the audience will not know more.
The hearing on December 7 has already started badly. As in the previous days since November 25, due to the absence of the four defendants, the hearing was suspended when the meeting began. Allow time for the bailiff to issue a subpoena to appear in court. Salah Abdeslam, Mohamed Abrini, Osama Krayem and Sofien Ayari did refuse to appear in the box to protest the actual absence of the Belgian police. They chose to testify anonymously via video conference.
From “chicken” to “Abou Abderrahman”
An hour later, the Belgian investigator of the Belgian anti-terrorist police n°440 232 779 finally appeared on the large screen of the courtroom and drew a simple PowerPoint by inserting the screen. I can simply say something, the hypnotized will let go of the most treacherous. Its generality makes everyone agree. The document roughly covers the period from the birth of Salah Abdeslam on September 15, 1989 to Molenbeek-Saint-Jean in Brussels, through the management of the Les Béguines bar, and ends with the mysterious journey with Ahmed Dahmani in Greece in August 2015 (jointly The defendant was detained in Turkey and tried by default). At the turn of the elliptical slide, we learned all the similarities between Salah Abdeslam and kunya (Arabic nickname) Abou Abderrahman, which means “kind servant”, and the nickname “chicken” or “pouchos pouchos” without further explanation. The block map shows the residences of the defendant’s relatives, especially the residences of Abdulhamid Abbaud, Mohamed Abbrini and Ahmed Dahmani.
The inspector then detailed the subpoena issued by Salah Abdeslam to the Molenbeek police on February 28, 2015 in response to the alleged trip to Syria. A month ago, the police learned that Salah’s brother Brahim and Kamikaze fighters from Voltaire had stayed in Syria and he planned to go there. Salah Abdeslam spontaneously participated in the rally and defended himself against any radicalization. In front of the inspector, he evoked “Go to Spain and Morocco to roam and live with the locals”. He put together his friendly and ideological connection with Abdulhamid Abbaud. The resulting report summarized the hearing in these terms: The man “showed no external signs of activism, whether in his clothes, his appearance, or his words.” The civil party did not hesitate to point out a somewhat rash conclusion. “If we just asked this question, he would say:’This is true, I want to know that I was involved in a holy war’? Don’t we conduct further investigations? », ask Melectronic Gérard Chemla, lawyer for civil parties. “We must go back to that time. Going to Syria is not an offense,” he initiated to contact the inspector. “But we know his connection with Abbaud, and we know that Abbaud poses a special threat. Are we not looking at mobile phones? Computers? Are we not looking at something? », annoyed the lawyer. “The investigating judge believes that there was no Enough elements,” the witness who was obviously disturbed replied.
# November 13th
Me Haeri: We know that Salah Abdeslam is Abaaoud’s friend, and we know who Abaaoud is. Nevertheless, for DR3 investigators, what is important is not it, but a dress style, a physique. Are these criteria for excluding activism?
-Aurélie Sarrot (@aureliesarrot) December 7, 2021
The mystery of Les Béguines cafe
In the introduction, the traffic police also briefly mentioned the co-management of Les Béguines cafe with his brother Brahim. It is said to be a key location for his radicalization, because investigations have shown that he often finds Abdelhamid Abaaoud in the cellar of this bar. It was in the same place that he watched a creepy video in which his friend dragged the body behind the wheel of a pickup truck. The problem, at the end of his introduction, the inspector could not clearly state whether there was a cellar in the institution. “There may be one, but I have not been checked.” The investigator awkwardly answered M’s persistent questionelectronic Salah Abdeslam’s lawyer Olivia Ronen. The report of the café search read by the lawyer overwhelmed the work of the Belgian police again, because the content was summative. The personnel of the financial department that conducted the search, but not the counter-terrorism department (DR3), believed that the search of the premises was useless, and therefore did not enter the cellar. The visit time does not exceed fifteen minutes. We concluded: “Nothing in the organization aroused interest in investigation.”
The inspector’s profile also does not allow to know more about Salah Abdeslam’s intention to visit Greece in 2015. Except for the inspector’s inability to pronounce the word “airport” correctly, repeated use of the word “airport” resulted in mock laughter and confused expressions. The witness n°440 232 779 did not provide more effective information on what the defendant might have done there. And the details of meeting there. Forced by the lawyer’s specific questions, the abused inspector can only verbally say “as far as I know”, “probably”, and “I don’t know” routines, which cannot cover up the general situation of the investigation. We may better understand the reason for his anonymity.
Trial by the Belgian Police
The day before, President Jean-Louis Periès asked the lawyers not to make mistakes in the trial. This does not support the unabashed warning to the police officers. “We are not here to judge this institution or service. The person who has loopholes and fell into the cracks, unfortunately, has been established for a while. We are not here to judge good or bad…”
On Tuesday, a few minutes before the end of the meeting, the president of the court finally rewrote Olivia Ronen, her questioning tone turned the question into a collective humiliation meeting. “If you can avoid the comments in the question.” Your question is already good and reasonable. I think we can use a different tone than we did to this investigator,” he rebuked her. In the end, the hearing ended in the same bad manner as it began. A bad week for the Belgian investigator.