Paris attacks: Salah Abdeslam 'refused to blow himself up'

Images of Salah Abdeslam Image copyright Belgian/French police
Image caption Abdeslam was arrested in a dramatic raid in Brussels not far from his home

Surviving Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam chose not to blow himself up to save lives, his brother says.

Mohamed Abdeslam was speaking to French BFMTV after meeting Salah in his Belgian prison cell where he is awaiting extradition to France.

"There would have been more victims had I done it," Salah told him. "Luckily, I couldn't go through with it."

The gun and bomb attacks on a concert hall, a stadium, restaurants and bars on 13 November 2015 killed 130 people.

Abdeslam, 26, was arrested last month in Brussels four days before bomb attacks in Brussels killed 32 people.

Police believe the same militant network was behind attacks in both cities.

The French national, born in Belgium, had apparently been hiding in the Belgian capital for more than four months.

After his arrest, Abdeslam was initially questioned over his alleged role in the Paris attacks.

Image caption Abdeslam was arrested in the Molenbeek area of Brussels

But after the suicide bombings in the Belgian capital, he chose to exercise his right to silence.

Salah Abdeslam - from petty crook to Islamist

  • Born 15 September 1989 in Brussels
  • In his teens, he and two brothers get into trouble with police for drug trafficking
  • Transport technician for STIB from 2009-11 but fired for poor timekeeping
  • Jailed briefly for burglary in 2010 with Abdelhamid Abbaoud, the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks, who went to the same Molenbeek school
  • In 2013 managed "Les Beguines" bar in Molenbeek with brother Brahim; the bar was shut down in 2015
  • Briefly detained by Dutch police in February 2015, fined €70 (£49) for possession of cannabis
  • Both brothers placed on police list in 2015 for links to Islamist fighters in Syria

After meeting him in the Bruges prison, Mohamed Abdeslam said his brother had told him he wanted to co-operate with French authorities because he "is accountable to the French, but not to the Belgians" - a reference to the Belgian attacks.

However, Belgian authorities say Abdeslam has links to at least two of the Brussels bombers.

His fingerprints were found in a flat rented by Khalid el-Bakraoui, who blew himself up on the Brussels metro station on 22 March.

Investigators say Najim Laachraoui, named as one of the two Brussels airport bombers, was stopped by police in a car with Abdeslam on the Hungarian border with Austria in September.

Both the Paris and Brussels attacks have been claimed by so-called Islamic State.