ISIS Paris attacks
ISIS Paris attacksReuters

Salah Abdeslam, the central defendant in the 2015 Paris attacks trial said on Wednesday that the coordinated killings were retaliation for French air strikes on the Islamic State (ISIS) group, and that the deaths of 130 innocent people in the attacks were “nothing personal”, The Associated Press reports.

The comments marked the first time that Abdeslam acknowledged his role in the Paris attacks.

Nine ISIS group gunmen and suicide bombers struck within minutes of one another at several locations around Paris on November 13, 2015, targeting fans at the national soccer stadium and cafe-goers and ending with a bloodbath inside the Bataclan concert hall.

Abdeslam is the only survivor of that cell, most of whose members were French or Belgian. After his suicide vest malfunctioned on the night of the attacks, he fled to his hometown of Brussels.

Abdeslam, who was arrested months after the attacks, said on Wednesday the killings were a response to French air strikes in Syria and Iraq.

“We fought France, we attacked France, we targeted the civilian population. It was nothing personal against them,” Abdeslam said. “I know my statement may be shocking, but it is not to dig the knife deeper in the wound but to be sincere towards those who are suffering immeasurable grief.”

Abdeslam’s trial was disrupted twice in two days last week, as he made more inflammatory statements from the dock, causing the judge to temporarily suspend proceedings.

In an allotted period in which Judge Jean-Louis Peries gave Abdeslam the right to speak during a debate on which representatives of the victims would be allowed to participate in the trial, the suspect began ranting about the victims of wars in Syria and Iraq, asking whether they would be invited to the courtroom to testify.

He also claimed that he and the other defendants were being treated by the court as if they were presumed to be guilty.

Abdeslam has also been convicted in a Belgian court for trying to kill police during a shootout in Brussels in 2016. The court sentenced Abdeslam and a co-accused to 20 years in prison in 2018.

He was also designated by the United States as a "global terrorist", meaning that sanctions freezing any assets in US jurisdiction and forbidding Americans to do business with him will be imposed.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Yom Kippur in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)