Paris: The man who loaned his Paris suburb apartment to the suspected ringleader of the attacks on the city and accomplices but claimed he did not know who they were, was sent before a French judge today. Jawad Bendaoud, who sparked a flurry of mocking social media memes for an interview he gave protesting his innocence as the police assault on the apartment in Saint-Denis was ongoing, was arrested soon afterwards.
Police targeted the apartment in northern Paris while hunting the attacks’ suspected ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Abaaoud was killed during the police raid, along with a woman thought to be his cousin, Hasna Aitboulahcen, and another as yet unidentified man.
Bendaoud, whose detention was extended until today, could face formal charges. Police were tipped off to his possible involvement when they saw a man who resembled him talking with Aitboulahcen the night before the raid.
The meeting between the two, police said, could have been to negociate payment for the apartment’s lease to the jihadists. Aitboulahcen later picked up Abaaoud and another man from where they were believed to be hiding in the north of Paris.
Shortly before his arrest, Bendaoud said that he had loaned his apartment to two people from Belgium as a favour to a friend. “A friend asked me to put up two of his friends for a few days,” he said.
“I said that there was no mattress, they told me ‘it’s not a problem’, they just wanted water and to pray,” Bendaoud said before being handcuffed and led away by police. He said his friend told him the men came from Belgium, where according to investigators several of the jihadists were known to have lived.
“I was asked to do a favour, I did a favour. I didn’t know they were terrorists.” At least 130 people died and more than 350 injured were injured in the attacks on a concert hall, restaurants and a football stadium.