PARIS: The mother of one of the Paris suicide bombers, whose brother is now on the run, has said her son "did not mean to kill anyone" and believes he blew himself up because of "stress".
Ibrahim Abdeslam, 31, detonated his suicide vest outside the Comptoir Voltaire cafe on Friday night, but only killed himself.
His brother Mohamed was arrested in Brussels on Saturday and later released. A third sibling, Salah, is Europe's most wanted man after becoming the subject of an international arrest warrant.
The Abdeslam family said they were "surprised" that Ibrahim blew himself up, even though he had spent time in Syria. Their mother Faklan, speaking to a reporter through her nephew outside the family home in Molenbeek, Brussels, told the Belgian website Het Laatste Nieuws that she was sure he had not planned to kill anyone.
Another family member said he would not have wanted to become a suicide bomber. "Maybe the explosives went off prematurely by accident. Maybe it was stress. We even saw him two days before the attacks. There were no signs that they had plans to do anything violent. The fact that his bomb belt exploded without killing anyone else says a lot."
The family admitted he had spent "a long time" in Syria. "We were really surprised that Salah was involved. Ibrahim was different," they said. "We did see that he had been radicalised, at least in part. But not so much that we ever thought he would commit an atrocity like this."
Ibrahim, who seriously injured a bystander when he detonated his suicide bomb, rented a Seat Leon used in the attacks.
The car was used by the terrorists who murdered diners outside the Casa Nostra pizza restaurant and the Belle Equipe cafe. It was later found abandoned with weapons inside. His brother Salah, 26, rented a VW Polo also used by the attackers. He was stopped by police as he headed towards Belgium on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile Le Parisien, a French newspaper, reported that police closed a coffee shop run by Ibrahim this month after neighbours complained about a strong smell of cannabis.
A 48-year-old woman, who owns a dress shop next door to the Abdeslam family home, said of the brothers: "They are nice boys, they say 'bonjour Madame, ca va?' When I see them coming and going from the house.
"I didn't sleep at all last night when I found out. I don't understand what happened. I think they must have become radicalised. It is possible that they were influenced by a radical preacher.
"Now I am scared. I have three children and I am in this shop by myself all day and these men live next door."
The neighbour said the family, of Moroccan origin, also had a daughter in her early 20s and a younger son. She said Mohammed and Ibrahim, both married with young children, lived in the house with their parents but Salah moved out three or four months ago to another house in Molenbeek.