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)
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)
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)
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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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