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article imageMan who lent flat to Paris attacks ringleader hit with terror charges

By AFP     Nov 24, 2015 in World

The man who lent his Paris suburb apartment to the suspected ringleader of the attacks on the city was charged with terror offences on Tuesday, prosecutors said.

Jawad Bendaoud was arrested soon after last week's massive police raid on the Saint-Denis flat, where Belgian jihadist Abdelhamid Abaaoud and accomplices were killed.

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged him with associating with criminals in a terrorist plot and possessing explosives and weapons as part of a terrorist plot, and detained him in custody.

Police targeted the apartment in northern Paris while hunting the attacks' suspected ringleader Abaaoud, who was killed along with his female cousin, Hasna Aitboulahcen, and another as-yet unidentified man.

Police were alerted to Bendaoud's possible involvement when they saw a man who resembled him talking with Aitboulahcen the night before the raid.

The meeting between the two could have been to negotiate payment for the apartment's lease to the jihadists, police said.

Aitboulahcen later picked up Abaaoud and another man from where they were believed to be hiding in the north of Paris.

The building in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis  is seen on November 18  2015  where French...
The building in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, is seen on November 18, 2015, where French Police special forces raided an apartment, hunting those behind the attacks that claimed 129 lives in the French capital
Eric Feferberg, AFP/File

Shortly before his arrest, Bendaoud told AFP he had lent 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."

The simultaneous attacks on a concert hall, restaurants and the Stade de France stadium on November 13 left 130 dead and 350 injured.

Bendaoud 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.

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