Prosecutor: Abdeslam backed out of suicide bombing at Paris stadium

Alleged Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam planned to commit a suicide bombing at the French-German football game being played in Stade de France stadium on November 13 before he backed down, France's state prosecutor said Saturday.

Abdeslam told Belgian investigators about the plan after he was apprehended in the Molenbeek neighbourhood of Brussels on Friday, French prosecutor Francois Molins said.

The 26-year-old has already admitted to being in Paris on November 13, 2015, the night of the coordinated bombings and gun attacks on restaurants, bars, the Stade de France stadium and the Bataclan concert hall that left 130 people dead, according to a Belga news agency report citing his lawyer Sven Mary.

Abdeslam, who became one of Europe's most wanted criminals in the wake of the attacks, has been charged with "participating in terrorist murder" and taking part in the activities of a terrorist organization, according to a statement from the Belgian Federal Public Prosecutor's Office.

A total of five people were taken into custody in Friday's raids, including members of the family that was hosting Abdeslam in Molenbeek, where the Frenchman grew up and lived before the November attacks.

Belgian prosecutors said authorities have detained another man known by two aliases who faces the same charges as Abdeslam.

A third man stands accused of hiding Abdeslam and his alleged accomplice and is thought to have links to a terrorist organization.

Two other suspects were released, despite charges filed against one of them for hiding the two men.

Abdeslam's leg was slightly injured in the raid. He was taken to a hospital in Brussels and was discharged on Saturday.

The French Justice Ministry said Saturday a new European arrest warrant had been issued against Abdeslam, with prosecutor Molins saying it would accelerate his transfer.

The European warrant is less complicated and faster than extradition through Belgium, with the final decision over Abdeslam's transfer to France expected in two to three months, Molins added.

Abdeslam is believed to have joined his brother Brahim in targeting restaurants and bars during the Paris attacks, but his exact role in the violence has never been publicly disclosed. It is believed that at the very least he offered logistical support to the attackers.

A manhunt for Abdeslam had been under way since mid-November, after he was brought back from Paris to Belgium by two acquaintances following the attacks.

There had been media reports that he may have escaped to Syria - a stronghold of the Islamic State extremist group, which claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.

Last update: Sat, 19/03/2016 - 22:07

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