Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam is no longer cooperating with Belgian police and wants to be extradited to France as soon as possible, his lawyer, Sven Mary, said Thursday.
Authorities captured Abdeslam after a shootout in Molenbeek, an impoverished suburb of Brussels, Belgium, last Friday.
The Belgium-born French citizen was taken alive but wounded, authorities said. He had initially cooperated with investigators but was fighting extradition, Mary told reporters.
Investigators suspect Abdeslam was probably going to be part of an attack being planned by the ISIS cell that carried out the deadly blasts Tuesday at the Brussels airport and in the city’s metro, a senior Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN.
Investigators believe the cell accelerated the plan when Belgian police discovered Abdeslam’s hideout in the Forest district of Brussels last week. The official said one of the two brothers in the Brussels strikes, Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui, rented the Forest safe house that Abdeslam used in the wake of November’s Paris attacks — definitively connecting the Paris and Brussels attack cells, the official said.
The Belgian federal prosecutor revealed Wednesday that Brussels attacker Ibrahim El Bakraoui left behind a will found in a laptop computer near a bomb factory raided Tuesday in the city’s Schaerbeek district. In the documents, Bakraoui stated he “needs to rush” and “no longer feels safe.” He also said that if he takes too much time, he would end up “next to him in prison” — an apparent reference to Abdeslam the Belgian investigators believe, the official told CNN.
Investigators think Abdeslam may have been the driver of the black Renault Clio that dropped off three suicide bombers near the Stade de France, one of the sites attacked in Paris last year.
They also think he wore a discarded suicide belt found on a Paris street after the attacks, a belief based on sweat on the belt that matched Abdelslam’s DNA, a source close to the investigation told CNN.
Abdeslam’s next hearing will be in Belgium on April 7, his lawyer said.