French authorities on Tuesday questioned a top suspect linked to the Nov. 13 Paris attacks while fugitive Salah Abdeslam still remains at large. The news comes as Belgium’s capital city of Brussels remained under lockdown while the highest security level was extended for another week over fears of a Paris-style attack.
Jawad Bendaoud is the only person in France facing potential terrorism charges linked the coordinated shootings and suicide bombings in Paris that killed 130 people. Bendaoud, who was detained last week for providing lodging to the suspected mastermind of the attacks in an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, was handed over Tuesday morning to an anti-terrorism judge in Paris, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
French police raided the apartment on Nov. 18, killing three people, including suspect mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud and his female cousin, Hasna Aitboulahcen.
Bendaoud reportedly said in a telephone interview that he gave shelter to two people from Belgium but was unaware about who they were or what they planned. Bendaoud, 29, told BFM television, "I didn't know they were terrorists. I was asked to do a favor. I did a favor, sir," AP reported.
French police Tuesday were also analyzing a suicide belt that was found in a dustbin in the southern suburb of Montrouge. According to reports the suicide belt resembled those used in the Paris attacks.
Meanwhile, Belgium is seeking greater intelligence-sharing from Morocco amid concern over an imminent threat to the country following the Paris attacks.
Morocco's King Mohammed VI and Belgian King Philippe spoke with each other following which the interior ministers of both countries discussed details of closer security cooperation, AP reported, citing the MAP news agency Tuesday.
A massive hunt is also underway in Belgium for Abdeslam, who is believed to have helped the Paris attackers with logistics and likely rented one of the cars used in the attacks.
Two suspects in Belgium -- Mohammed Amri, 27, and Hamza Attou, 20 -- were charged Monday on suspicion of helping Abdeslam escape to Brussels after the attacks, while a third unnamed person faces charges of aiding him when he reached the city.
On Monday, a German newspaper Bild reported that Abdeslam may have escaped to Germany. However, the report could not be confirmed.