The capture of a key suspect in the Paris attacks in Belgium on Friday could soon lead authorities to a trove of undisclosed information about the Islamic State's inner workings, a counter-terrorism expert told Vocativ.
Salah Abdeslam was wounded and arrested in Brussels' Molenbeek neighborhood after police moved in on a flat where he was believed to be hiding, according to reports. The only suspect remaining at large from November's deadly wave of attacks, Abdeslam's arrest provides an unprecedented opportunity for western law enforcement and intelligence officials.
"What this means for ISIL, more than anything, is that a lot more information is going to come out about their network," Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, an analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Vocativ on Friday, using another name for ISIS.
See images from the police raid:
It's unclear what precisely authorities may learn from having Abdelsam in custody, but given the 26-year-old's role in the Paris attacks it could be significant.
Abdelsam likely has knowledge about the terror group's organization and top-down structure, Gartenstein-Ross said. He may also be able to provide law enforcement with information about the role ISIS' senior leadership plays in day-to-day operations, who delivers orders and how the group deals with surveillance—details that remain murky to intelligence officials.
"Not all of the information he may have will be reliable or accurate," Gartenstein-Ross said. "But authorities have a pretty good record in terms of getting information from these types of guys."
Gartenstein-Ross added: "It's not clear how much he knows. We also don't know how long he'll hold out or how quickly ISIL' networks will adapt."
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