April 26, 2016 / 4:35 PM / 3 years ago

Algerian held in Austria planned to take part in Paris attacks - Le Monde

PARIS (Reuters) - One of two men arrested late last year at a Salzburg refugee camp has said he had been planning to join the group of suicide bombers that struck Paris last November, French media reported on Tuesday.

Contacted by Reuters, the Paris prosecutor’s office declined to comment. A spokesman for the prosecutors’ office in Salzburg stood by a statement issued in February in which it said it was verifying whether there was a connection between the arrests and the attacks.

Adel Haddadi, a 29-year old Algerian, was initially part of a commando of non-European suicide bombers targeting the French capital, but his progress through Europe was hampered by authorities along the way, and he has been in custody since his arrest along with a 22-year old Pakistani in Austria last December, French daily Le Monde said.

“They told me I was supposed to go to France, to carry out a mission, and that I would receive instructions there,” Haddadi told Austrian police on Feb. 12, Le Monde reported.

The two men travelled together from Syria to the Greek island of Leros with two Iraqi brothers who eventually blew themselves up near the Stade de France national stadium outside Paris, the paper said.

The attacks, claimed by Islamic State and in which coordinated groups of Islamist militants hit cafes and a concert venue, killed 130 people in and around Paris on Nov. 13.

Haddadi and the Pakistani, Muhamad Usman, were first arrested in Leros during a passport check on Oct. 3, 2015, as one of them showed poor Arabic language skills and the other one was unable to describe Aleppo, which was his birthplace according to the passport he was carrying, daily Le Parisien said.

Both men were released three weeks later and continued their journey to Austria, where they were re-arrested.

Reporting by Michel Rose; additional reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna; Editing by Andrew Callus

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