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2 French Citizens Arrested In Austria Suspected Of Links To Paris Attacks


Most of the men thought to have carried out the Paris attacks have been accounted for. Of the nine, all but one are dead. And the search is on for the lone survivor. Police have also been hunting for accomplices. And now two men have been detained and are being questioned in Austria. They are reportedly French citizens of Algerian and Pakistani origin. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley joins us from Paris. Good morning.


MONTAGNE: And what else do you know about these men, aside from their apparent origin?

BEARDSLEY: Right. Well, these men were picked up in a camp for migrants in Salzburg. Apparently, allegedly, they were traveling with some of the Paris attackers when they came in from the Middle East to Europe via Greece. And so that's what - that's what the media is saying. Now, the Austrian prosecutor has not confirmed any of this. He says he doesn't want to compromise the investigation. A third attacker who blew himself up in the concert hall, the Bataclan, was identified last week. He's another Frenchman who has traveled to Syria. So out of the six identified, four of them are French, and two are Belgian nationals. But they're all radicalized. There's three identities of all dead attackers who are unknown. Two were thought to have entered Europe from Syria on false Syrian passwords. And they were at the stadium in Paris. They blew themselves up there. And then a third person who died in the raid in the northern Paris suburbs after the attacks and died alongside the ringleader of the attacks, he - his identity is also unknown.

MONTAGNE: And only one known to have been involved in the attacks, the one that I've just mentioned, is still alive and still missing. Talk to us about who he is.

BEARDSLEY: Exactly. Well, his name is Abdeslam Salah. And his brother actually blew himself up in the Bataclan attacks. He's a Frenchman who was living in Belgium in this neighborhood of Molenbeek that has spawned the careers of many radicals. And he is thought to have thrown his suicide belt, his explosive belt, in a trashcan in Paris, in the southern part of Paris, because that's where he was last seen on his cell phone. What has just come to light yesterday, Renee, is that police were on the verge of getting him possibly two days after the attacks, where intelligence came out that he was in an apartment, possibly his apartment, in this Molenbeek neighborhood in Brussels. And - but because of an arcane Belgian law that doesn't let police raid - do nighttime raids between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., they had to wait until the morning to move in. And then there was no one there anymore. And Belgian news media is reporting that there were - he got out with movers hidden inside an armoire.

MONTAGNE: So a lot more clarity and details coming about that story. How are people feeling there in France?

BEARDSLEY: You know, life is going about the normal - there are Christmas decorations up. People are not as jumpy. But, you know, schools are practicing lockdown activities. My own son came home and told me about one yesterday. He had to get under his desk. And, you know, the Bataclan concert hall, all the flowers and notes, they're going to be archived for the Paris archives. So they're collecting them now, and they're going to save them. So people are still thinking of the attacks, but less jittery.

MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, bringing us up to date on the Paris attacks. Thanks very much.

BEARDSLEY: You're welcome, Renee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.