- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Belgian lawyer for Salah Abdeslam, a French national accused of participating in the Paris terror attacks, called his client a “moron” with “the intellect of an ashtray” as the suspect was transferred Wednesday from Belgium to France.

“He’s a little moron from Molenbeek involved in petty crimes; more of a follower than a leader. He has the intelligence of an empty ashtray. He is the perfect example of the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ generation who thinks he lives in a video game,” attorney Sven Mary told the Liberation newspaper. He also described the difficulties involved in defending him.

The 26-year-old terror suspect was arrested in Brussels in mid-March after spending four months on the run following the November attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead. Three days later, a series of bombings in the Belgian capital attributed to Islamic State terrorists claimed another 32 lives.

“There have been moments when I thought of giving up. If I had known about the Brussels attacks, maybe I would never have taken this case,” Mr. Mary told the Liberation.

On Wednesday, Belgian prosecutors announced that Mr. Abdeslam had been transferred to France, where prosecutors said he would be “presented to investigating magistrates with a view to being charged.”

Although prosecutors have accused the suspect of carrying out the attack on behalf of Islamic State, the radical Islamic terrorist group, Mr. Mary told interviewers that he believes his client only recently became radicalized.

“A year and a half ago, he was clubbing in Amsterdam. The only explanation I can find is that it was internet propaganda that gave the impression that Muslims were unfairly treated,” the attorney said.

“He and his mates have managed to give an entire religion a bad name. I asked him if he’d read the Koran, which I have, and he replied that he’d read its interpretation on the Internet. For simple minds, it’s perfect for the Web, it’s the most they can grasp.”

Mr. Mary noted that his client had been actively assisting investigators and believes he could prove to be invaluable to their terror probe. Despite being initially cooperative, however, Mr. Abdeslam had “exercised his right to silence” and stopped answering questions shortly into the interrogation process, Belgian prosecutors said.

“I think Salah Abdeslam is of capital importance to this investigation. I would even say he is worth gold. He cooperates, he communicates,” Mr. Mary told the Liberation.

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