PARIS (Reuters) - Salah Abdeslam, the prime surviving suspect for November’s Paris attacks, told Belgian investigators on Saturday that he had planned to blow himself up on Nov. 13 at the Stade de France but changed his mind, the Paris prosecutor said.
“Salah Abdesalam today during questioning by investigators affirmed that, and I quote, ‘he wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France and that he had backed down’,” Francois Molins told reporters, adding that Abdeslam’s initial statements should be treated with caution.
The prosecutor said that at worst it could take three months for Abdeslam to be handed over to France after the 26-year old said he would oppose extradition to his homeland.
Molins said Abdesalam had played a “central role” in the planning and logistics of the gun and bomb attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.
He cited several trips across Europe in July, September, October and November that included transporting others linked to the attacks. Molins also said Abdeslam had bought detonators and oxygenated water used for the fabrication of explosives.
“His first statements, that we must take with precaution, leave unanswered a series of questions on which Abdeslam will have to explain, in particular, his presence in the 18th district of Paris on Nov. 13 at 22h (10 p.m.),” Molins said.
“He will also have to explain the reasons why he decided to finally abandon his suicide belt.”
Islamic State, which says it carried out the attacks, had in a claim of responsibility described each of the locations struck, including the 18th district of the French capital, where no attack actually took place.
Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Catherine Evans
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