The “total” and “extraordinary” investigation explored by an anti-terrorism police officer

To the specially composed assize court in Paris,

He barely stumbles on a word. After four hours of a testimony briefly interrupted by lawyers visibly eager to see him conclude, the former deputy head of the SDAT, the anti-terrorism sub-directorate of the judicial police, remained unperturbed. It is true that this police commissioner, dark suit on his back enhanced by a pink shirt, deprived the court of only a few details.

First witness to take the stand at the sprawling trial of the November 13 attacks, the investigator who testified anonymously under the pseudonym “SDAT99” exposed the “extraordinary” and “unprecedented” investigations carried out by his teams. A “total investigation” summarized by these figures launched head by the witness. “5,338 reports drawn up in eleven days”, “4,000 sealed”, “37 police custody carried out in France”, “2,259 hearings of witnesses” and “1,000 police officers” mobilized at the height of the investigation.

A “spectacle of desolation”

Six years after the events, the witness “SDAT99” has not forgotten anything of the three days of terror which befell Paris and its region in the fall of 2015. Coming with a few notes, the official only throws furtive people. glances. With surgical words, he expresses the horror of the observations made by the police on “eight crime scenes simultaneously”. There are these bodies of suicide bombers “fragmented into ten” or “six pieces” and found near the Stade de France. Then the arrival in the early morning, at 5 am, at the Bataclan and the “spectacle of desolation” which reigns in the room. In his voice, nothing translates the emotion. But when he evokes the beginning of the “hunt” of the authors and their accomplices, his already rapid flow accelerates further.

“We must count as quickly as possible the victims of these attacks, identify them, collect the testimonies of the survivors and make sure to collect them in the most effective way possible. It’s a challenge and every minute counts, ”he reminds the specially composed Assize Court. Very quickly, the first elements collected direct the police on the trail of the Belgian jihadist and coordinator of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. However, the man recognizes it, his services are far from imagining that this man who has become for several months a “media figure” of the terrorist organization Daesh, is in France.

The “cataclysm” caused by Abaaoud

Proof of the extraordinary nature of this investigation is information given by a young woman who contacted the toll-free number set up by the police which will allow Abaaoud to be located. “On November 17, 2015 at 5 pm, she confirms that Abaaoud is in Saint-Denis and indicates that he is considering an attack on the Defense” barely two days later. This information is a “cataclysm”, confides the commissioner of the SDAT. With the same calm, the former deputy head of anti-terrorism enumerates the difficulties which then arise to intervene.

Refugees in a squat in Saint-Denis, the logistician of the attacks, his cousin and one of the members of the terrorist cell must be arrested as quickly as possible and directly in the building, rue du Corbillon. “This operation will be put in place in an extremely short time and in a context of imminent risk of an attack. We do not know their weaponry, but we know that they have returned from Syria and are seasoned in combat. We do not know the composition of the building, we were not able to make a reconnaissance of the places and we all have in mind the possibility of a trap ”, enumerates the commissioner. The operation was launched, and the three occupants of the squat were killed after several hours of heavy gunfire by the Raid police.

Having remained silent for a while, Salah Abdeslam ended up interrupting the witness’s account, considered too prolific by some defense lawyers. “Let the witness speak, shut up!” “, The president immediately intervenes to the attention of the Franco-Belgian. The accused then raises his voice: “When will we have the floor?” »And adds:« We’ve been hearing all this for a week ». Firm, the president warns: “You have not finished hearing it, you will hear it for several more weeks!” “. An understatement given the number of testimonials expected. In total, nearly 300 people are expected to take the helm over the nine months.

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