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Europe

Trial opens in Poland for accomplice of Paris attacks mastermind

media An image grab taken from a video released by the jihadist media arm Al-Hayat Media Centre on January 24, 2016, purportedly shows suspected Paris attacks mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud, also known by his nom de guerre Abu Umar al-Baljiki. HO / AL-HAYAT MEDIA CENTRE / AFP

A Moroccan accomplice of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the deadly 2015 Islamic State attacks in Paris, went on trial Tuesday in Poland accused of belonging to the terror group, local media reported.

Mourad T., 28, pleaded not guilty to the charges of being a member of a terrorist group but admitted to having been in possession of illegal narcotics and fake travel documents, the PAP news agency said.

The trial underway in the southern city of Katowice is the first of its kind in Poland, one of the few EU members which has not experienced an attack by jihadists.

The suspect was detained September 5, 2016 in Poland. If he is convicted, he could get between six months to eight years in prison.

Prosecutors alleged that "between December 2014 and September 2016 Mourad T. was involved with an armed crime organisation -- an international terrorist organisation called Islamic State."

They added that Mourad T. was an "accomplice" and "scout" of Abaaoud, who allegedly planned the November 2015 gun and suicide bomb attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

Mourad T. met with Abaaoud in the Turkish city of Edirne in late 2014, along with Sofiane Amghar and Khalid Ben Larbi, two jihadists who were killed in an anti-terror raid in Belgium in 2015, the prosecutors said.

Abaaoud was killed in a dramatic police raid at an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on November 18, 2015, five days after the Paris carnage.

Mourad T. used several false identities and spent time in EU countries Austria, Greece, Hungary, as well as in non-members Turkey and Serbia.

Prosecutors added that they found instructions on how to make explosive devices and mentions of potential targets on a phone belonging to Mourad T.

Poland's domestic ABW counterintelligence agency nabbed the suspect after receiving a tip-off from its EU counterparts.

According to local media, the first intel came from the CIA.

 
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