Belgium says captured Paris suspect may have planned more attacks

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BRUSSELS, March 20 (Reuters) - The prime surviving suspect in the Paris attacks may have been plotting more operations with the help of a weapons cache and a network of associates, Belgium's foreign minister said on Sunday.

Didier Reynders, speaking two days after the capture of Salah Abdeslam, said the suspect's first statement to a magistrate in Brussels suggested further attacks were planned.

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"He was ready to restart something from Brussels," Reynders told a think-tank event. "That is maybe the reality, because we have found a lot of heavy weapons and we have seen a new network around him."

Reynders said Belgium and France had so far found around 30 people involved in the gun and bomb attacks that killed 130 people on Nov. 13 in bars, a sports stadium and a concert hall in the French capital.

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Belgium says captured Paris suspect may have planned more attacks
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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Capturing Abdeslam alive marks a breakthrough for authorities investigating the deadliest militant strikes in Europe since 2004. Islamic State has claimed responsibility, and the United States warned on Sunday that it would try to repeat such atrocities.

The 26-year-old French national told a Belgian magistrate on Saturday he had planned to take part in the stadium attack. The admission was disclosed to reporters by the lead French investigator, Francois Molins.

At a Paris news conference on Saturday, Molins read from Abdeslam's statement, saying: "He wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France and, I quote, backed out."

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Abdeslam's lawyer Sven Mary said on Sunday he would sue Molins for making the comment public, calling it a violation of judicial confidentiality.

"I cannot let this pass," Mary told Belgian state broadcaster RTBF. Mary's office was not available for comment, but RTBF said he would start legal proceedings on Monday.

OTHERS AT LARGE

Abdeslam, who was shot in the leg and caught by police in Brussels after an intense four-month manhunt, spent his first night in a high security prison in the northwestern Belgian city of Bruges. He is due to appear before a judge in Brussels on Wednesday.

"Our investigation must show how he managed to hide from police and security forces," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told European broadcaster RTL. Belgium's federal prosecutor has said the fugitive relied on a network of friends and relatives involved in drug dealing and petty crime.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said the United States was working closely with European authorities to ensure they had the necessary training and intelligence to be able to prevent another Paris-style attack.

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"They say they intend to do this again, so we take that very seriously, and we are trying to draw lessons from what happened on that terrible night in Paris," McDonough told the Fox News Sunday television program.

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

Abdeslam's lawyer said his client admitted being in Paris during the attacks but would fight extradition to France. His elder brother Brahim, with whom he used to run a bar, was among the suicide bombers.

Authorities hope the arrest may help disrupt other militant cells that Michel said were at large.

"There is a real threat. There are many, many people in Europe who have been radicalized, who are both from Syrian war zones and those who have grown up among us. There is a colossal amount of intelligence work to do," Michel said.

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