Belgium Questioned Salah Abdeslam for Only One Hour Before Attacks | Article

Belgian law enforcement officials questioned terror suspect Salah Abdeslam for about one hour between the time of his arrest Friday and the Brussels attacks Tuesday, according to Abdeslam’s attorney and two sources familiar with the investigation.

Despite the discovery of detonators, weapons, and Abdeslam’s fingerprints in a safe house days earlier and growing evidence that the Brussels terror network was stronger than previously understood, law enforcement officials only briefly questioned Abdeslam because he was still recovering from surgery after being shot in the leg during his apprehension, according to a senior Belgian security official, who asked for anonymity to speak about the investigation.

“He seemed very tired and he had been operated on the day before,” the official said, adding that law enforcement officials did not question him again before Tuesday.

Abdeslam was questioned again “immediately” after the Brussels attacks, but he refused to speak, the statement said.

Even as officials warned publicly over the weekend that further attacks were possible, Belgian authorities decided not to raise the terror alert to its highest level.

The decision of investigators to not focus on drawing out information from Abdeslam about imminent threats, as well as the admission after the airport and subway attacks that the suspected bombers had been known to law enforcement authorities, is sure to feed growing criticism of the Belgian government’s competence on counterterrorism.

The country’s law enforcement lapses, exacerbated by a fragmented political system, have allowed a strong network of jihadi cells to turn Belgium into one of their most significant bases of operation in Europe. Belgium has 451 citizens who went to fight in Syria and Iraq (in per capita terms, the most of any country in the EU), and 117 of them have returned home, according to the latest estimates provided by the justice ministry.

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By: euronymus (7762.80)

Tags: Belgium, attack, terrorist, abdesalam

Location: Belgium