'I was a suicide bomber': Paris suspect charged in Belgium

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Salah Abdeslam, Suspect In Paris Terror Attacks, Discharged From Hospital

BRUSSELS/PARIS, March 19 (Reuters) - The prime surviving suspect for the Nov. 13 Paris attacks planned to blow himself up at a sports stadium with fellow Islamic State militants but changed his mind, he told Belgian investigators on Saturday.

SEE ALSO: Suicide bomb kills five, wounds 36 in Istanbul shopping district

The admission by Salah Abdeslam came a day after he was shot in the leg and captured during a police raid in Brussels, ending an intensive four-month manhunt.

"He wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France and ... backed out," said the lead French investigator, Francois Molins, quoting Abdeslam's statement to a magistrate in Brussels before he was transferred to a secure jail in Bruges.

The gun and bomb attacks on the stadium, bars and a concert hall killed 130 people and marked the deadliest militant assault in Europe since 2004.

See photos from the police raid in Brussels:

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'I was a suicide bomber': Paris suspect charged in Belgium
Forensic police investigate outside the building where was carried out a police operation in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016, as part of the investigation into the Paris November attacks. The main suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in a raid in Brussels on March 18, French police sources said. / AFP / BELGA / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Forensic police investigate outside the building where was carried out a police operation in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016, as part of the investigation into the Paris November attacks. The main suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in a raid in Brussels on March 18, French police sources said. / AFP / BELGA / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Forensic police investigate outside the building where was carried out a police operation in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016, as part of the investigation into the Paris November attacks. The main suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in a raid in Brussels on March 18, French police sources said. / AFP / BELGA / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows damage on the building where was carried out a police operation in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016, as part of the investigation into the Paris November attacks. The main suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in a raid in Brussels on March 18, French police sources said. / AFP / BELGA / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
SINT-JANS-MOLENBEEK, BELGIUM - MARCH 18: Police officers guard a road after raids in which several people, including Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, were arrested on March 18, 2016 in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Belgium. Belgian police arrested three people in raids including key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam according to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
SINT-JANS-MOLENBEEK, BELGIUM - MARCH 18: Police officers guard a road after raids in which several people, including Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, were arrested on March 18, 2016 in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Belgium. Belgian police arrested three people in raids including key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam according to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
SINT-JANS-MOLENBEEK, BELGIUM - MARCH 18: Police officers guard a road after raids in which several people, including Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, were arrested on March 18, 2016 in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Belgium. Belgian police arrested three people in raids including key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam according to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
SINT-JANS-MOLENBEEK, BELGIUM - MARCH 18: Police officers patrol after raids in which several people, including Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, were arrested on March 18, 2016 in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Belgium. Belgian police arrested three people in raids including key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam according to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
SINT-JANS-MOLENBEEK, BELGIUM - MARCH 18: Police officers guard a road after raids in which several people, including Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, were arrested on March 18, 2016 in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Belgium. Belgian police arrested three people in raids including key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam according to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
An ambulance passes next to a police officer with a dog during a police operation in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016, as part of the investigation into the Paris November attacks. The main suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in a raid in Brussels on March 18, French police sources said. / AFP / BELGA / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
SINT-JANS-MOLENBEEK, BELGIUM - MARCH 18: Police officers guard a road after raids in which several people, including Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, were arrested on March 18, 2016 in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Belgium. Belgian police arrested three people in raids including key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam according to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
A Belgian policeman stands guard in a street during a police action in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016. A police operation was underway on March 18, in the Brussels area home to key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam whose fingerprints were found in an apartment raided this week, the federal prosecutor's office said. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS / AFP / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Police stand guard near the scene of a police operation in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016, as part of the investigation into the Paris November attacks. The main suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in a raid in Brussels on March 18, French police sources said. / AFP / BELGA / AURORE BELOT / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read AURORE BELOT/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman climbs into a police truck near the scene of a police operation in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016, as part of the investigation into the Paris November attacks. The main suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in a raid in Brussels on March 18, French police sources said. / AFP / BELGA / AURORE BELOT / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read AURORE BELOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Police stand guard near the scene of a police operation in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016, as part of the investigation into the Paris November attacks. The main suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in a raid in Brussels on March 18, French police sources said. / AFP / BELGA / AURORE BELOT / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read AURORE BELOT/AFP/Getty Images)
A policeman stands guard near the scene of a police operation in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016, as part of the investigation into the Paris November attacks. The main suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in a raid in Brussels on March 18, French police sources said. / AFP / BELGA / AURORE BELOT / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read AURORE BELOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Police speaks together near the scene of a police operation in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016, as part of the investigation into the Paris November attacks. The main suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in a raid in Brussels on March 18, French police sources said. / AFP / BELGA / AURORE BELOT / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read AURORE BELOT/AFP/Getty Images)
In this framegrab taken from VTM, armed police officers escort a suspect to a police vehicle during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, Friday March 18, 2016. After an intense four-month manhunt across Europe and beyond, police on Friday captured Salah Abdeslam, the top fugitive in the Paris attacks in the same Brussels neighborhood where he grew up. (VTM via AP) BELGIUM OUT
Police officers with dogs during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, Friday March 18, 2016. After an intense four-month manhunt across Europe and beyond, police on Friday captured Salah Abdeslam, the top fugitive in the Paris attacks in the same Brussels neighborhood where he grew up. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Police evacuate a woman and a small child during a police raid in the Molenbeek neighbourhood of Brussels, Belgium on Friday, March 18, 2016. Two French police officials have told The Associated Press that Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive from Islamic extremist attacks in Paris in November, has been arrested in Belgium's capital after four months at large. He was arrested Friday in a major police operation in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek. (AP Photo/Geoffrey Van der Hasselt)
A policeman stands guards near the scene of a police operation in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016, as part of the investigation into the Paris November attacks. The main suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in a raid in Brussels on March 18, French police sources said. / AFP / BELGA / Aurore BELOT / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read AURORE BELOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Special operations police secure an area during a police raid in the Molenbeek neighbourhood of Brussels, Belgium on Friday, March 18, 2016. Two French police officials have told The Associated Press that Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive from Islamic extremist attacks in Paris in November, has been arrested in Belgium's capital after four months at large. He was arrested Friday in a major police operation in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek. (AP Photo/Geoffrey Van der Hasselt)
Police officers guard an entrance of a school during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, Friday March 18, 2016. Police have descended in force to search a residence in the Molenbeek, and Belgian media reported gunshots had been fired. RTBF French-language TV reported late Friday afternoon that two people had been wounded, and that one might be Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Police officers guard an entrance of a school during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, Friday March 18, 2016. Police have descended in force to search a residence in the Molenbeek, and Belgian media reported gunshots had been fired. RTBF French-language TV reported late Friday afternoon that two people had been wounded, and that one might be Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Emergency vehicles travel along a street blocked by armed police officers during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, Friday March 18, 2016. Police have descended in force to search a residence in the Molenbeek, and Belgian media reported gunshots had been fired. RTBF French-language TV reported late Friday afternoon that two people had been wounded, and that one might be Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam. (Aaron Hamerlynck via AP)
A street is blocked by armed police officers during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, Friday March 18, 2016. Police have descended in force to search a residence in the Molenbeek, and Belgian media reported gunshots had been fired. RTBF French-language TV reported late Friday afternoon that two people had been wounded, and that one might be Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam. (Aaron Hamerlynck via AP)
This framegrab taken from APTN shows an armed police officer during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, Friday March 18, 2016. Police have descended in force to search a residence in the Molenbeek, and Belgian media reported gunshots had been fired. RTBF French-language TV reported late Friday afternoon that two people had been wounded, and that one might be Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam. (APTN via AP)
Belgian policemen stand guard in a road during a police action in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016. A police operation was underway on March 18, in the Brussels area home to key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam whose fingerprints were found in an apartment raided this week, the federal prosecutor's office said. / AFP / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
This framegrab taken from APTN shows armed police officers during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, Friday March 18, 2016. Police have descended in force to search a residence in the Molenbeek, and Belgian media reported gunshots had been fired. RTBF French-language TV reported late Friday afternoon that two people had been wounded, and that one might be Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam. (APTN via AP)
This framegrab taken from APTN shows an emergency vehicle during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, Friday March 18, 2016. Police have descended in force to search a residence in the Molenbeek, and Belgian media reported gunshots had been fired. RTBF French-language TV reported late Friday afternoon that two people had been wounded, and that one might be Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam. (APTN via AP)
A police officer guides two women away during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, Friday March 18, 2016. Police have descended in force to search a residence in the Molenbeek, and Belgian media reported gunshots had been fired. RTBF French-language TV reported late Friday afternoon that two people had been wounded, and that one might be Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
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Molins told reporters in Paris that people should treat with caution initial statements by the 26-year-old French national. But his capture and apparent urge to talk marked a major breakthrough for investigators after the trail had seemed to go cold.

Abdeslam's lawyer said he admitted being in Paris during the attacks but gave no details. He told reporters his client, born and raised by Moroccan immigrants in Brussels, had cooperated with investigators but would fight extradition to France.

Legal experts said his challenge was unlikely to succeed but would buy him weeks, possibly months, to prepare his defense.

Belgian prosecutors charged Abdeslam and a man arrested with him with "participation in terrorist murder."

Abdeslam's elder brother Brahim, with whom he used to run a bar, was among the suicide bombers. Salah's confession suggested he was the 10th man mentioned in an Islamic State claim of responsibility for the attacks, after which police found one suicide vest abandoned in garbage.

Abdeslam's family, who had urged him to give himself up, said through their lawyer that they had a "sense of relief."

Authorities hope the arrest may help disrupt other militant cells that Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said were certainly "out there" and planning further violence. French security services stepped up their measures at frontier crossings after a global warning from Interpol that other fugitives might try to move country.

"We've won a battle against the forces of ignorance but the struggle isn't over," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said.

The case has raised tensions with France but Michel and French President Francois Hollande, who was in Brussels for an EU summit when Abdeslam was arrested, praised each other's security services. Hollande was attending an international soccer match at the Stade de France when the bombers struck.

FLIGHT RISK

A man using false papers in the names of Amine Choukri and Monir Ahmed Alaaj was also charged with terrorist murder. As Choukri, he was documented by German police in the city of Ulm in October when he was stopped in a car with Abdeslam. French prosecutor Molins said Abdeslam traveled widely to prepare the attacks.

A third man in the house when the pair were arrested was charged with belonging to a terrorist organization. He and a woman who was present were charged with concealing criminals.

Police had sought Abdeslam since he called two acquaintances in Belgium in a panic, hours after the attacks, to have them collect him and bring him home. Suspected to be as far away as Syria, it seems he was in Brussels all or most of the time.

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Brussels police hunt fleeing gunman in Paris probe
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'I was a suicide bomber': Paris suspect charged in Belgium
BRUSSELS, March 15, 2016-- Police officers guard at a crossroad on the site of a shooting in Forest, Brussels, Belgium, March 15, 2016. A police officer was injured on Tuesday afternoon in a shootout during a raid on a property in Brussels, reportedly linked to the Paris terror attacks. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan via Getty Images)
Belgian police forces stand near a barrier in close security perimeter near the apartment where shots were fired in the southern Forest district of Brussels on March 15, 2016 during a major Belgian-French anti-terror operation in Brussels linked to the Paris attacks. Belgian and French police launched a huge manhunt for two suspects in Brussels after gunmen opened fire. Five Belgium police officers were wounded and a suspect was shot dead. / AFP / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Belgian police forces stand behing a close security perimeter near the apartment where shots were fired in the southern Forest district of Brussels on March 15, 2016 during a major Belgian-French anti-terror operation in Brussels linked to the Paris attacks. Belgian and French police launched a huge manhunt for two suspects in Brussels after gunmen opened fire. Five Belgium police officers were wounded and a suspect was shot dead. / AFP / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Policemen escort inhabitants as they get out of the shops where they were forced to stay near the site where shots were fired in the southern Forest district of Brussels on March 15, 2016 during a major Belgian-French anti-terror operation in Brussels linked to the Paris attacks. Belgian and French police launched a huge manhunt for two suspects in Brussels after gunmen opened fire. Five Belgium police officers were wounded and a suspect was shot dead. / AFP / Belga / NICOLAS MAETERLINCK / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read NICOLAS MAETERLINCK/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers secure an area during an apartment raid in Brussels on Tuesday March 15, 2016. Belgian police launched an anti-terror raid linked to last year's Paris attacks in a Brussels neighborhood on Tuesday. A police official, who requested anonymity because the operation was still ongoing, said the exact circumstances of the incident were still unclear, and that several police officers were injured. (AP Photo/Thierry Monasse)
Police secure an area after an apartment raid in Brussels on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Belgian police launched an anti-terror raid linked to last year's Paris attacks in a Brussels neighborhood on Tuesday. A police official, who requested anonymity because the operation was still ongoing, said the exact circumstances of the incident were still unclear, and that several police officers were injured. (AP Photo/Thierry Monasse)
Police secure an area after an apartment raid in Brussels on Tuesday March 15, 2016. Belgian police launched an anti-terror raid linked to last year's Paris attacks in a Brussels neighborhood on Tuesday. A police official, who requested anonymity because the operation was still ongoing, said the exact circumstances of the incident were still unclear, and that several police officers were injured. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
People cross the road as police secure the area in Brussels Tuesday March 15, 2016, after police launched an anti-terror raid linked to last year's Paris attacks in a Brussels neighborhood and three police officers were slightly injured when shots were fired, officials said. A police official, who requested anonymity because the operation was still ongoing, said the exact circumstances of the incident were still unclear, or whether the police officers were struck by bullets or injured in another way. (AP Photo/Thierry Monasse)
Armed police secure an area in Brussels Tuesday March 15, 2016, after police launched an anti-terror raid linked to last year's Paris attacks in a Brussels neighborhood and three police officers were slightly injured when shots were fired, officials said. A police official, who requested anonymity because the operation was still ongoing, said the exact circumstances of the incident were still unclear, or whether the police officers were struck by bullets or injured in another way. (AP Photo/Thierry Monasse)
Police secure the area in Brussels Tuesday March 15, 2016, after police launched an anti-terror raid linked to last year's Paris attacks in a Brussels neighborhood and three police officers were slightly injured when shots were fired, officials said. A police official, who requested anonymity because the operation was still ongoing, said the exact circumstances of the incident were still unclear, or whether the police officers were struck by bullets or injured in another way. (AP Photo/Thierry Monasse)
Police officers speak to each other during an apartment raid in Brussels on Tuesday March 15, 2016. Belgian police launched an anti-terror raid linked to last year's Paris attacks in a Brussels neighborhood on Tuesday. A police official, who requested anonymity because the operation was still ongoing, said the exact circumstances of the incident were still unclear, and that several police officers were injured. (AP Photo/Thierry Monasse)
Police officers stand at the site of a shooting on Dries-Driesstraat at Forest-Vorst in Brussels on March 15, 2016. Shots were fired on March 15 at Belgian police in the capital Brussels as they carried out an operation linked to the Paris attacks, Belgian prosecutors told / AFP / BELGA / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer walks at the site of a shooting in the Dries-Driesstraat street on March 15, 2016 at Forest-Vorst in Brussels. Shots were fired on March 15 at Belgian police in the capital Brussels as they carried out an operation linked to the Paris attacks, Belgian prosecutors told. / AFP / BELGA / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer runs in the street near the site of a shooting on Dries-Driesstraat at Forest-Vorst in Brussels on March 15, 2016. Shots were fired on March 15 at Belgian police in the capital Brussels as they carried out an operation linked to the Paris attacks, Belgian prosecutors told / AFP / BELGA / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers stand at the site of a shooting on Dries-Driesstraat at Forest-Vorst in Brussels on March 15, 2016. Shots were fired on March 15 at Belgian police in the capital Brussels as they carried out an operation linked to the Paris attacks, Belgian prosecutors told / AFP / BELGA / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer holding his gun stands guard on the site of a shooting in the rue du Dries-Driesstraat in Brussels, on March 15, 2016. The shooting took place during searches linked to the Paris terrorist attacks. Two members of federal police where injured in the operation and police is still searching for the shooter. / AFP / BELGA / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer cordons off the area as people gather near the site of a shooting on Dries-Driesstraat at Forest-Vorst in Brussels on March 15, 2016. Shots were fired on March 15 at Belgian police in the capital Brussels as they carried out an operation linked to the Paris attacks, Belgian prosecutors said. The raid comes as Belgian police continue their hunt for Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November attacks which killed 130 people, who comes from Brussels. / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather on a street corner near a police car near the site of a shooting on Dries-Driesstraat at Forest-Vorst in Brussels on March 15, 2016. Shots were fired on March 15 at Belgian police in the capital Brussels as they carried out an operation linked to the Paris attacks, Belgian prosecutors said. The raid comes as Belgian police continue their hunt for Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November attacks which killed 130 people, who comes from Brussels. / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer stands near the site of a shooting on Dries-Driesstraat at Forest-Vorst in Brussels on March 15, 2016. Shots were fired on March 15 at Belgian police in the capital Brussels as they carried out an operation linked to the Paris attacks, Belgian prosecutors said. The raid comes as Belgian police continue their hunt for Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November attacks which killed 130 people, who comes from Brussels. / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman stands next to a policeman at the entrance of a security perimeter set on the scene where shots fired at Belgian police? on March 15, 2016 in Brussels. The shots were fired as Belgian police carried out an operation linked to the Paris attacks, as Belgian police continue their hunt for Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November attacks which killed 130 people, who comes from Brussels. AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers walk in the street near the site of a shooting on Dries-Driesstraat at Forest-Vorst in Brussels on March 15, 2016. Shots were fired on March 15 at Belgian police in the capital Brussels as they carried out an operation linked to the Paris attacks, Belgian prosecutors told / AFP / BELGA / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
In this image taken from video a Belgium police officer stands at a doorway in Brussels Tuesday March 15, 2016. Belgian police launched an anti-terror raid linked to last year's Paris attacks in a Brussels neighborhood on Tuesday and three police officers were slightly injured when shots were fired, officials said. A police official, who requested anonymity because the operation was still ongoing, said the exact circumstances of the incident were still unclear, or whether the police officers were struck by bullets or injured in another way. (AP Photo)
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Failure to complete his mission could have limited his access to any support from Syria-based Islamic State; the chief Belgian investigator on the case said he had instead relied on a network of friends, family and neighbors with whom he had a history of drug trafficking and petty crime.

Security agencies' difficulties in penetrating some Muslim communities, particularly in pursuit of Belgium's unusually high number of citizens fighting in Syria, have been a key factor in the inquiry.

PARIS RELIEF

As Parisians, and families of the victims, voiced relief at the arrest, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after an emergency cabinet meeting that a trial could answer questions for those who suffered in the attacks.

"Abdeslam will have to answer to French justice for his acts," he said. "It is an important blow to the terrorist organization Daesh (Islamic State) in Europe."

A trickle of people came to a makeshift memorial in central Paris, near the scene of much of the bloodshed, to pay their respects.

"It's really a relief," said Emilien Bouthillier, who works in the neighborhood. "I can't wait for Belgium to transfer and return him to France so he can be tried the way he should be."

Friday's armed swoop came after Abdeslam's fingerprints were found at an apartment following a bloody raid on Tuesday in which an Algerian was shot dead and police officers wounded.

Later, local media said, a tip-off and a tapped telephone led police to a mobile phone number used by Abdeslam and, by triangulating the device's location, established where he was.

At his nearby newspaper store, a vendor named Dominique said Abdeslam had been well known and liked in the community: "He was a very nice lad before," he said. "How can things go this far?"

(Additional reporting by Robin Emmott, Clement Rossignol, Hortense de Roffignac, Philip Blenkinsop and Jan Strupczewski in Brussels and Miranda Alexander-Webber in Bruges)

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