On trial at the Brussels Correctional Court in connection with March 2016 terror attacks in Brussels, Sofien Ayari admitted on Monday that he had been in the apartment on Rue du Dries with Mohamed Belkaid and Salah Abdeslam. However, his co-accused, Abdeslam, refused to answer any questions.
Ayari said he had been in the apartment with Belkaid and Abdeslam on the 15th of March 2016 – the day of the attacks-, that he had spent many weeks there, but that he did not know who had rented it. He said he mainly ran errands, with money supplied by Belkaid. He also stated that he could not recall whether the weapons found in the apartment had been there when he arrived.
According to Ayari, the perpetrator of the 22 March 2015 attack on Brussels Airport had gone many times to Rue du Dries, mainly to see Belkaid.
Salah Abdeslam is the last remaining member of the jihadist commando that carried out an attack in Paris on the 13th of November 2015. From the start of the trial he indicated his refusal to cooperate. “I do not wish to answer any question,” Abdeslam told Presiding Judge Marie-France Keutgen when she asked him about his identity. He has refused to talk to investigators ever since he was jailed in France in April 2016.
Sofien Ayari had arrived in Germany with a wave of migrants. On the way, he met Osama Krayem, the man accused of purchasing the bags used for the Brussels attacks. His aim was “not necessarily” to go to Belgium, he said. However, the presiding judge pointed out that false papers in the names of the two men had been made in Belgium a week before Abdeslam went to pick them up in Germany on the 3rd of October.
Ayari said he did not always agree with Islamic State, ISIS, and that he only supported ISIS’ actions against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.