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Sibling Of 2 Suspects In Paris Attacks Says Family Is Shocked Brothers Are Linked To Violence

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 16/11/2015 Matt Ferner

A brother of two suspects linked to the attacks that rocked Paris last week told reporters on Monday that his family has been surprised to learn their relatives could have been involved in the violence that has left at least 129 people dead.

"My family and I have been touched by what has happened," Mohamed Abdeslam said in front of his home in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium. "We have learned about this through the media, like many of you. It didn't cross our minds that one of my brothers could have been linked to these attacks. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. But you have to understand that we have a mother, a family, and despite everything he remains their child."

He also spoke briefly about his brothers Ibrahim, who died during a suicide attack Friday at the Comptoir Voltaire, and Salah, for whom French authorities are still looking. He said they both grew up and studied in Belgium. 

A senior European intelligence official familiar with the case told The Washington Post that both brothers were involved in the attacks.

Ibrahim had been well-known to Belgian authorities for theft and drug trafficking, according to newspaper La Libre Belgique. The publication also reported that Ibrahim is believed to have traveled to Syria at some point before the attacks. 

Salah interacted with police hours after the attacks, multiple French officials told the Associated Press. He was in a vehicle crossing France's border with Belgium early Saturday morning. Officers checked his ID and then let him pass.  

"We are an open family," Mohamed said. "We never had problems with the law. You have to understand that despite the tragedy, my parents are in shock and don't realize entirely yet what has happened."

He added that his family doesn't know where Salah is. 

"We don’t know, given the current tension, whether he’ll dare to turn himself in," Mohamed said. "My brother Salah hasn't been heard by judicial authorities yet. We don't really know yet what has really happened."

French authorities have conducted more than 150 raids across the country since the attacks, arresting multiple people and seizing dozens of weapons. Belgian authorities  detained seven people, including Mohamed, over the weekend. He and four others were later released.

Mohamed told reporters that he has worked for the city government for years without problems and has "no links whatsoever to what happened."

"Friday evening, throughout the entire evening, I had an alibi, and that's the reason  released me," Mohamed said. 

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