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“I went to Syria to collect myself at my brother’s grave”

Second day of interrogation for Mohamed Abrini at the trial of the November 13 attacks. Yesterday, before the Assize Court of Paris, he spoke of his relationship to religion. The man in the hat claims that if he were free he would live in a country where Sharia law is enforced. He also legitimized the attacks while insisting that he has no blood on his hands. Today, the court asked him questions about his trip to Syria in the summer of 2015 and his detour to England.

No military training in Syria

Mohamed Abrini is in Syria from June 23 to July 9, 2015. What did he do there? What made her decide to go? Who are the people he met there? Here are the first questions asked by the president of the Paris Assize Court. Mohamed Abrini explains that it is the death of friends and that of his little brother that pushes him to leave for Syria.

We don’t shout it from the rooftops

The president asks Mohamed Abrini if ​​his friends were aware of his intention to join Syria. He answers : “It’s not the kind of thing that people shout from the rooftops”.

On his crossing of the border between Turkey and Syria, Abrini gives some details: “I was in a sort of warehouse with about fifty people in Gaziantep. Then I went by alone with a smuggler”. The president continues and asks if this passage is controlled by members of the Islamic State. Abrini replies: “They take away your papers and your phone, but I did not fill out any form”, he says.

When asked if he had received religious or military training on site, Abrini replied: “No, I only stayed nine days, not a year.”

On the other hand, on the spot, he admits being in contact with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the coordinator of the attacks and terrorist of the terraces, as well as with Najim Laachraoui, the group’s fireworks and suicide bomber from Zaventem. It is Abaaoud who indicates to Abrini the location of his brother’s grave. Laachraoui gives him other information: “He told me about my brother’s journey, how he was killed”. According to Abrini, the pyrotechnician does not speak of future plans for an attack. On the other hand, it is clear that Laachraoui is a fighter, he was moreover injured in combat. In the apartment they share, there are weapons: “Over there, everyone is armed, there were handguns”, he concedes.

What did he do in England?

Nine days after arriving in Syria, Mohamed Abrini finally goes to his brother’s grave: “It was a hot spot so I had to wait”. He affirms that this is the sole purpose of his trip: to be able to meditate on his brother’s grave.

He specifies the modalities of his arrival in Raqqa: “It is thanks to Abdelhamid Abaaoud that I was able to enter and leave Syria. He offered me to join the Islamic State, but I refused”. He admits, on the other hand, having gone to England at the request of Abaaoud to recover money there: “3000 pounds”.

We always imagine the worst in these cases

After recovering the money for Abaaoud in Birmingham, Mohamed Abrini goes to Manchester where he takes his picture in the stadium. The president reminds him what the investigators thought of these photos taken six months before the attack at the Stade de France. Abrini replies: “These are shortcuts. We always imagine the worst in these cases”.

Abrini finally goes through Paris before returning to Brussels. The president asks him why he made this detour: “I was on community service at the time. I wanted to avoid being arrested at Brussels airport”. The president insists and asks if he had any specific projects in Paris: “No. It’s the same paranoia as for England”. The president reframes: “It’s not paranoia, it’s curiosity, we want to understand”.

Where is the money ?

As to what Mohamed Abrini did with the money he recovered on the orders of Abaaoud, the accused got tangled up. Several versions have already been advanced during his hearings. He would have played this sum at the casino, he would have given it to Abaaoud’s brother, to Brahim Abdeslam or to someone from the neighborhood. Today, Abrini advances: “This is an unfulfilled mission, Mr. President”.

The president finally asks him if he kept the money, Abrini replies in the affirmative and is retorted by the president: “I have the impression that if I offer you another version, you will also say yes”. Smile of the accused in the box. Before Abrini speaks again: “If your concern is whether this money was used for the attacks, the answer is no”.

Frustration among civil parties

In the corridors of the Paris courthouse, the civil parties can only remain hungry in the face of the evasive responses of Mohamed Abrini. Dominique Kielemoes is the mother of Victor, a young man of 24 who died on the terrace of the Belle Équipe. She is also the vice-president of the 13Onze15 association: “On a personal level, it’s very annoying. We know he’s an important link in the chain. He was in Paris on November 12 and in Zaventem on March 22, 2016. He’s not an underling, he was close to Abaaoud “. She continues: “IHe speaks, but to say things that we already know and that don’t matter. On the other hand, when we approach important elements, he answers: “I do not remember, it is a detail” “, she regrets.

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