Salah Abdeslam, the primary suspect, and fugitive in the Paris attacks was captured by counterterrorism authorities during a raid in Molenbeek, a suburb in Brussels on Friday.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks that killed at least 130 people and injured hundreds of others in November.
Ahmed El Khannouuss, the deputy mayor of Moleenbeek said Abdeslam’s knee was wounded during an intense shootout. Two other suspects were arrested in the raid.
Theo Francken, the state secretary for asylum policy and migration of Belgium, confirmed that they captured Abdeslam. He tweeted, “We have him,” shortly after authorities arrested the terrorist.
Authorities have been looking for Abdeslam since November, and they elevated their manhunt after two men were seen escaping a police raid on an apartment in the Forest neighborhood of Brussels on Tuesday.
Authorities discovered Abdeslam’s DNA and fingerprints at the site. They suspected that he was one of the two who were seen fleeing the raid.
Algerian ISIS operative killed in police raid on Tuesday
According to CNN, terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said, “A big moment for the families who lost loved ones that day and a big moment for European security services. He represented still a significant threat to some kind of follow-on attack somewhere in Europe.”
“He was inside that safe house with a senior Algerian ISIS operative who was one of the ringmasters of the Paris attacks. That Algerian operative, Mohamed Belkaid, was killed by a Belgian police sniper in that operation on Tuesday afternoon.”
“He had been giving orders to the Paris attackers during the Paris attacks, including to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, coordinating that whole operation, so very significant moments indeed,” added Cruickshank.”
France to seek extradition of Abdeslam
French President Francois Hollande and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel confirmed the arrest of Abdeslam during a joint press conference. According to them, Abdeslam was “directly linked to preparing, organizing and perpetrating” the Paris attacks.
“I hope you will understand we will not disclose too much detail for obvious security reasons. The Belgian and French intelligence services are cooperating on the investigation. Right now, we are living an important moment, but we ought to let the Belgium police do its work without disturbance,” said Hollande.
He added that France will seek the extradition of Abdeslam and he believes that Belgium will respond quickly and efficiently.
Furthermore, Hollande said, “Until we have arrested all those who took part (in the Paris attacks) our fight will not be over.”