PARIS (AP) — The mother of the youngest of the Paris attackers, who blew himself up outside France's national stadium, said she was "proud" that her son killed no one but himself, and hopes to reclaim his remains for burial in Morocco.
The woman identified as Fatima Hadfi late Sunday called Maghreb TV, a Belgian network with wide viewership among the country's Moroccan community. On air, she said she had no idea her 20-year-old son, Bilal, was radicalized until he called earlier this year from Syria — instead of from Morocco, where he had told her he was going to vacation.
She did not call authorities to report his disappearance. But they found out anyway, she said, and soon after police broke down their door and handcuffed her and her older son, forcing them to the floor of their home in Belgium with guns trained on her. Nine months later, she learned he was among three suicide bombers near the Stade de France.
Bilal Hadfi, who French authorities say was nearly continuously on the phone with the suspected mastermind for 40 minutes before the first detonation on Nov. 13, blew himself up a short distance from the stadium. He was the only person killed in the explosion.
"What is the hardest, I think, is that for nine months we didn't see him, for four months we had no news of him, and he blew himself up outside my door. Because Paris is far and near at the same time. I wonder all the time if he suffered. I am proud that he had no victims," she told Maghreb TV.
She said Islamic extremists took advantage of her son after he grew disaffected by discrimination in Belgium and insisted that she had no warning that he had fallen in with Islamic extremists. When he gave up smoking pot and drinking, she thought at the time it was a good thing. A short time later, he left home.
After the Paris attacks, which left 130 dead and hundreds injured, she said she visited the site near the stadium where her son detonated a suicide vest.
"I was enormously painful but I needed to do it. I had to see for myself what happened to my son," she said.