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Morocco arrests Belgian national ‘directly linked’ to Paris attacks

© Abdelhak Senna / AFP (file photo) | A Moroccan police officer at a roadblock at one of the entrances to the city of Marrakesh on May 3, 2011

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-01-18

Moroccan authorities have arrested a Belgian national of Moroccan origin directly linked to the attackers who carried out the Paris shootings and bombings in November that killed 130 people, the government said in a statement on Monday.

The man was arrested on Friday in the town of Al-Muhammadiyah near Casablanca after traveling through Turkey, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, the statement said.

The interior ministry gave only the militant’s initials in Arabic, which could be translated as either J.A. or G.A.

The ministry said he had "direct links with some" of the Paris attackers and that he had fought in Syria with al-Nusra front before joining the Islamic State (IS) group.

“He went to Syria with one of the suicide bombers of Saint-Denis,” the statement said.

During his stay in Syria he took military training and made connections with IS group commanders, including "the mastermind of the terrorist attacks in the French capital," said the ministry.

The Paris suburb of Saint-Denis is the location of the Stade de France stadium, where three suicide bombers blew themselves up during the November 13 attacks.

It is also where police raided an apartment days after the attacks, on November 18, during which another suicide bomber detonated an explosives vest.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 28-year-old Belgian militant who authorities said was the ringleader of the Paris attacks was killed in the raid, which came about following a tip-off from Moroccan intelligence.

Several of the Paris attackers had Moroccan origins, while many also had links to Belgium whether as nationals or residents of the country.

One of the main suspects in the Paris attacks is still on the loose. Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French national born in Brussels to Moroccan parents is believed to have rented cars, apartments and hotel rooms used by the attackers.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2016-01-18

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