Tears, outrage as suspect tells terror trial France was responsible for carnage
Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor of the terrorist squads which murdered 130 people in the French capital six years ago, told the court he acted as "an authentic Muslim" to avenge the women and children being bombed by French planes in Syria.
"François Hollande," French President at the time, "knew the risks he was taking in attacking Islamic State in Syria," Abdeslam told the Paris tribunal on Wednesday. "Hollande knew what would happen. He knew there would be an answer.
"When Chirac," French president at the time of the second Iraq war, "refused to help the Americans, he did it because, he said, he wanted to avoid any anti-French hatred. He understood."
Abdeslam, who is being tried for terror-related crime with 19 other accused, was speaking for the first time with the court's permission. He went on to say that he and his fellow attackers were not "terrorists, jihadists, extremists," but simply Muslims.
"We acted with respect to authentic Islam.
"I don't want to turn the knife in the wound, it was not personal. We came to kill French civilians so that you would suffer as the men, women and children killed by French bombs in Syria were suffering."
People in the section of the special court reserved for survivors and the families of victims wept openly and hugged one another as he spoke.
"I want to be sincere," he continued. "I know people here are hurt. The minimum we owe them is the truth."
Salah Abdeslam was part of a group of ten jihadists who between them killed 130 people, of dozens of different nationalities, in Paris on 13 November 2015.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe