Salah Abdeslam, the recently arrested alleged mastermind behind the November Paris terror attacks, was spotted two months ago by a member of the public in the western Hungarian town of Sopron, Kronen Zeitung, an Austrian daily newspaper, has reported.
According to the paper, an Austrian reader reported the sighting, which has not been confirmed by authorities, to the news outlet. The woman claimed that after spotting Abdeslam in the border town, she reported the sighting to authorities in the Austrian town of Eisenstadt a day later.
The woman said that she recognised the Belgian-born French national from images published in the press and revealed that Abdeslam was in the company of another Arab-looking individual and constantly speaking on his smartphone during the encounter.
Abdeslam, who is believed to be one of the chief organisers behind the Paris terror attacks, was captured on Friday in the Molenbeek district of Brussels. According to previous reports, he had visited Austria on two occasions over the autumn and also travelled to Hungary from Belgium two times.
Apparently, he parked his car near Budapest’s Keleti pályaudvar railway station on 9 September, the height of the migrant crisis in the capital, but soon headed back to Belgium. On 17 September, he returned to Budapest through Germany and Austria, spending two hours near the railway station which was then receiving thousands of Syrian migrants.
Reports suggest that during his second visit, he picked up Najim Laachraoui, who is suspected to have close links to both the Paris attacks and the recent bombings in Brussels, and travelled with him to Belgium. Laachraoui is reported to have arrived to the European Union from Syria as part of last year’s migrant influx.