18 January 2016

Morocco Arrests Belgian National Linked to Paris Attackers

The arrest comes amid a multinational search to find suspects linked to the attacks. "Islamic State" militants carried out attacks across the French capital that left at least 130 people dead in November.

The Moroccan government on Monday said it arrested a Belgian national of Moroccan descent with direct links to militants who carried out the November attacks in Paris that left at least 130 people dead.

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Belgian media has reported that Salah Abdeslam, a fugitive from the Paris attacks, has gotten in touch with a defense attorney. Amid rumors he has returned to Belgium, speculation arose that he will turn himself in.

The country's Interior Ministry added that the man was involved with the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front militant group in Syria before defecting and joining the "Islamic State."

"He went to Syria with one of the suicide bombers of Saint Denis," said the interior ministry.

Moroccan authorities did not specify the man's identity, but offered his Arabic initials, which translate to J.A. or G.A. The man was arrested in the Western coastal city of Mohammedia on January 15, according the ministry.

Morocco provided French police with a tip that enabled them to locate Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 28-year-old Belgian militant believed to be the mastermind of the Paris attacks.

The North African country has held Abaaoud's brother Yassine since October, and issued an arrest for Salah Abdelslam, who authorities say was likely involved in the attacks.

ls/kms (Reuters, AFP)

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