'Many more Paris attack accomplices still at large' after Abdelsam's arrest, Hollande says

France's President Francois Hollande give a joint press conference on 18 March 2016 in Brussels regarding a police action in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean in Brussels. © Thierry Roge
Following the capture of the key surviving suspect in the November 13 Paris attacks, the French president has revealed that many more people were involved in planning the atrocities in which 130 people were killed.

“What we need to do is arrest all those who organized and facilitated these attacks. There are far more numerous people than we have identified, and it is that work that we need to deal with," Hollande told a press conference in Brussels with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

The French president said that hidden terrorist influence has spread throughout Europe, warning of further raids to neutralize terrorists. "We are dealing with extensive networks in several countries," Hollande said, adding that Friday's arrests “give us the chance to know the whole truth.”

After a violent raid lasting hours in a residential area in Molenbeek, Brussels, the authorities managed to arrested Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris. Abdeslam was one of the drivers who transported the extremists to Paris to conduct the attacks.

The 26-year-old French national of Moroccan origin, was shot in the leg during the operation. He was taken into custody along with four other people. An extradition request has been launched with the Belgian authorities.

"I have full confidence in the success of this extradition process. Abdeslam will be interrogated and judged in France," Hollande said.

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon told RTBF broadcaster that Belgium would agree to France’s extradition request. He also said that, “the jihadists must be neutralized, and not a single person more be radicalized.”

Hollande stressed that "everywhere, in Belgium as in France, the threat is very large," despite the arrests made.

Following the raid in Belgium, Barack Obama called French President Francois Hollande and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to congratulate them on securing the main suspect in last November’s attacks.

The US president “commended the work of Belgian security services and noted that this significant arrest was the result of hard work and close cooperation between Belgian and French law enforcement authorities,” the White House said in a statement.