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'I feel abandoned,' says witness who turned in Paris attacks coordinator

© Kenzo Tribouillard, AFP | Policemen take up position in the Parisian suburb of Saint Denis on Nov. 18, 2015, during an operation that killed Paris attacks ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud.


Latest update : 2016-02-04

A woman who turned in Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader of the November Paris attacks, said Thursday she feels "abandoned" and afraid of reprisals, in an interview with French broadcaster RMC.

The woman -- using the pseudonym Sonia -- said she had received little support from the state in changing her identity and was living in fear, even though she had police protection.

Sonia was a friend of Hasna Aitboulahcen, Abaaoud's cousin, who helped him hide after he and a group of jihadists attacked Parisian cafes, restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade de France stadium on November 13, killing 130.

Both Aitboulahcen and Abaaoud were killed in a police raid after the attacks, launched after prosecutors said a "witness" had come forward, whose claims were backed up by police investigations.

Sonia said she called police as Abaaoud revealed he was planning more attacks against a shopping centre, police station and a creche in Paris' La Defense business district.

"In my head I said they will not do it because I am going to stop them," said Sonia.

Sonia said she was with Aitboulahcen, 26, on November 15 when she received a call from a Belgian number telling her to pick up Abaaoud, who was hiding in bushes near a motorway.

"He was smiling, he didn't look at all like a terrorist," said Sonia.

Sonia said she asked him: "Did you take part in what happened on November 13?

"He said, just like that: 'The terraces, that was me'," she said, in an apparent reference to the attacks on people sitting outside pavement-front eateries.

Investigators have said Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan origin, was part of a team of gunmen who drove around the east of Paris spraying roadside cafes and restaurants with bullets.

"I said: 'But you killed people, you killed innocent people'," said Sonia.

"He said: 'No they're not innocent. You must see what's happening to us in Syria.'

"I saw that he was proud of himself, that he wasn't scared of anyone."

'Cut off from the world'

Sonia said Abaaoud boasted of how easy it was to get into Europe with a group of refugees, saying "France is useless."

He said he had travelled with 90 others, including Syrians, Iraqis, French, German and British citizens. "He said they were spread around everywhere in the Paris region."

Since turning in Abaaoud, Sonia has lived in limbo. Also she has been given a false name, she claims she has not been given documentation to support it.

"I have no life, no social life, no job, no friends, no family. I have been cut off from the world," she said.

The broadcaster said that since Sonia had been interviewed she had received some financial aid, but she is still awaiting the psychological help promised to her and assistance in building a new life.

"I feel threatened, abandoned," she said.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve refused to divulge details of the case.

"We are doing what must be done in an extremely complicated context," he told Europe 1 radio.

"The best way to act is to keep silent."


Date created : 2016-02-04


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