News / Europe

    IS Bombmaker for Paris Attacks Confirmed Killed in Brussels

    Image provided by the Belgian Federal Police on March 21, 2016, is a combo photograph showing Najim Laachraoui, who was previously identified in a false passport as Soufiane Kayal by Belgium Federal Police, during a money transfer on Nov. 17, 2015 in a We
    Image provided by the Belgian Federal Police on March 21, 2016, is a combo photograph showing Najim Laachraoui, who was previously identified in a false passport as Soufiane Kayal by Belgium Federal Police, during a money transfer on Nov. 17, 2015 in a We
    Lisa BryantWilliam Gallo

    Intelligence officials said Wednesday that a 25-year-old Islamic State bombmaker who was involved in the Paris attacks in November was one of two suicide bombers who targeted the Brussels airport this week.

    Authorities said Najim Laachraoui, who was born in Morocco but grew up in Brussels, was identified as a key participant in the Paris attacks after his DNA was found on suicide vests used in the operation. His DNA was also found Tuesday at an apartment in Brussels where authorities think bombs were constructed.

    Meanwhile, a second man identified as a suicide bomber in Tuesday's Brussels attacks had been detained by Turkey and deported but was released by European authorities about eight months ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.

    Erdogan said his government warned authorities in Belgium about Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, who was stopped in southern Turkey near the Gaziantep border crossing into Syria. The Turkish president said el-Bakraoui was deported last July but was then subsequently released, "despite our warnings that this person was a foreign terrorist fighter."

    In this undated combination photo provided by the Belgian Federal Police in Brussels on Monday, March 21, 2016, suspect Najim Laachraoui is shown.
    In this undated combination photo provided by the Belgian Federal Police in Brussels on Monday, March 21, 2016, suspect Najim Laachraoui is shown.

    Erdogan said those holding el-Bakraoui after he was deported "could not establish any links with terrorism," so they released the 29-year-old Belgian national.

    Authorities in Brussels, where the victims of the attacks were honored with a minute of silence Wednesday, confirmed that el-Bakraoui detonated explosives and was killed Tuesday at the capital's main airport. His brother, Khalid, 27, blew himself up aboard a metro train in Brussels about the same time. They were identified by their fingerprints.

    A fourth man seen on surveillance video with the two bombers at the airport remains at large.

    IS extremists claimed responsibility for the attacks, which killed at least 31 people and wounded 271.

    Links with Paris attacks

    With the confirmation that Paris bombmaker Laachraoui took part in the Brussels attacks, authorities are adding to evidence showing the ties between the two operations.

    On The Scene: Heather Murdock reports from Brussels

    On The Scene: Brussels Bombings Aftermathi
    X
    Heather Murdock
    March 23, 2016 4:20 PM
    Heather Murdock reports from Brussels, Belgium one day after the terror attacks that targeted the airport and a subway station which killed 34 people.

    Citing police sources, Belgian public broadcaster RTBF reported that Khalid el-Bakraoui had rented the Brussels apartment raided by French and Belgian police last week in connection with the Paris attacks.

    Police also found the fingerprint there of top Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, who was arrested Friday.

    Authorities believe the Paris attacks were at least partly plotted in Belgium.

    “France and Belgium are united more than ever in their sadness and determination,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters, alongside his French counterpart, Manuel Valls.

    Both countries are also worried about the growing number of their youngsters turning to militant Islam. While some are converts, many others are disaffected second-generation immigrants from North and sub-Saharan Africa.

    Belgian police leave after an investigating in a house in the Anderlecht neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, March 23, 2016, one day after Tuesday's deadly suicide attacks on the Brussels airport and its subway system.
    Belgian police leave after an investigating in a house in the Anderlecht neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, March 23, 2016, one day after Tuesday's deadly suicide attacks on the Brussels airport and its subway system.

    Moment of silence

    During the silent memorial in Brussels Wednesday, the Place de la Bourse was filled with people bundled against the spring chill and dark skies. The public square is the site where mourners have been bringing flowers and mementos to remember the victims.

    Vigil Held in Brussels for Victims of Tuesday’s Terror Attacksi
    X
    March 23, 2016 10:21 PM
    Vigil Held in Brussels for Victims of Tuesday’s Terror Attacks


    Much of the city remains locked down. The airport is closed at least through Friday; a statement said "the forensic investigation is still underway."

    "Until we can assess the damage, we are unable to confirm when operations at the airport can be resumed," authorities added.

    Belgium's terror alert is at maximum level. Authorities throughout Europe have boosted security at airports and other public spaces in response to the Brussels attacks, and a friendly soccer match set for next week between Belgium and Portugal has been moved from Brussels to the Portuguese city of Leiria as a precaution.

    US President Barack Obama (L) and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri deliver a joint press conference at the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires on March 23, 2016.
    US President Barack Obama (L) and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri deliver a joint press conference at the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires on March 23, 2016.

    President Barack Obama, who is on a trip to Argentina, on Wednesday expressed his "extraordinary sorrow" to Belgium, saying the U.S. had also felt the "scourge of terrorism."

    "The U.S. will continue to offer any assistance we can to help investigate these attacks and bring the attackers to justice," Obama said at a news conference alongside Argentina's president, Mauricio Macri.  "We will also continue to go after ISIL [another Islamic State acronym] aggressively until it is removed from Syria and Iraq and finally destroyed."

    About a dozen U.S. citizens were injured in the attacks, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    March 24, 2016 5:44 AM
    Trump was proven right again. He saw the problem, correctly assessed it and came up with the best possible solution. Don't follow his advice and continue allowing people who say they are refugees from the Mideast in and we will have the same problem Europe faces. That is how San Bernardino happened.

    Those who are naïve or hate America would open the door to anyone including terrorists who are very good at sneaking in. What will it take, another 9-11 or worse to wake Americans up? No Trump is not politically correct but he is correct and that is all that matters. Calling him a racist is just a pack of lies trying to defame him and flies in the face of common sense. Security of America is the government's number one priority, everything else takes a back seat including saving desperate refugees from abroad.
    In Response

    by: Sensi
    March 24, 2016 8:56 AM
    The terrorists aren't refugees or foreigners but Belgian nationals, the terrorists weren't refugees in San Bernardino either: your comment is as nonsensical as false.

    Why is VOA publishing litanies of blatant lies while censoring my comments? Pathetic.

    by: Observer
    March 23, 2016 8:31 PM
    European leaders and other free world leaders,
    To fight your enemies, you should first know their background,especially their ideology or religious convictions. You might have been reading material on politics. However, have you read their "Holy Scripture"? Only when you read most parts of it, then you may know your enemies and their mission more correctly. Otherwise, you only give false promises and assurance to your peoples whose lives you are supposed to protect.

    by: john from: texas
    March 23, 2016 6:25 PM
    something is wrong with this picture. we do not have the tools, equipment and technology to kill everyone of these subhumans? so we cannot stop their funding? so are we going to endure these vicious killers continuing to produce widows. mothers taken from their friends and families and children, why is there not a concerted effort to get rid of them. i am a vietnam combat veteran, 101 airborne. if i was not 71 yrs old. i would there now. i would not kill and animal, but these, how do i describe them? nothing comes to mind. they kill as many people as possible with no compassion,remorse or humanity. why are we not striving to free the world of this disease?

    by: Bird
    March 23, 2016 4:06 PM
    HAHA second time Turkey and Erdogan seriously deflect Western propaganda and Russian narrative that claims Turkey cooperates with ISIS. This is the second time this happens. Awesome

    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    March 23, 2016 1:29 PM
    We don't want to prosecute them. The brutal truth is we want to kill them. All of the islamic psychotic murderers must die on the battlefield - no prisoners - no courts.

    by: PermReader
    March 23, 2016 1:08 PM
    Wonderful pictures of police hiding their faces from the foreign(!) Muslim criminals. They are not the masters in their own capital.Let the Western presidents, leaders put on masks for the common security. Soon all the Western population ,besides Muslims,will live in masks.
    In Response

    by: Sensi
    March 24, 2016 9:05 AM
    They are not "foreign" being Belgian nationals, sorry to spoil your bigoted prejudices... Then anti-terrorist police units have like many special forces, anti-gang, anti-mob, anti-cartel, SWAT, etc, the habit to hide their faces from the press and thus their hypothetical targets: that's called common sense, good luck otherwise infiltrating criminal groups if your targets know your face.

    by: anynmous from: usa
    March 23, 2016 8:09 AM
    Arresting a suspect will not stopping them . They are hardcore criminal whom they believe to kill themselves for the cause of religion. This a fact. Politicians are denying that fact especially our president Obama who lost the touch of reality . We have to change our approach to the problem .

    We have change our law to face the reality that Islam could produce violent and make easier to deport Muslim and to ease the population for people hate us and impose themselves by the law. They are in the country and we get every month a terrorist attack and God forbid of massive attack like world trade center. Are we waiting because the our politician think of their survival by ignoring the problem and give us lecture of political correctness which is not working
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 23, 2016 11:19 AM
    A Wise Man said that the only way to defeat and destroy the ISIL terrorists is by destroying the ISIL Caliphate and capturing or killing the Caliph, [because], once a man or woman gives (Bay'ah) the oath of allegiance to the Caliph al-Baghdadi, they must obey him and submit to him and not make war on him, as long as it does not disobey the laws of Allah, [and], whoever dies and did not make (Bay'ah) an oath of allegiance (to a Muslim leader) has died the death of Jaahiliyyah...

    The Ummah represents a (universal world order), ruled by a Caliph in accordance with the law of God... [The Sharia, Islamic religious law]... and every man, woman and child has an obligation for military service in defense of the faith and Ummah... and to make Allah's word supreme in the world, and to restore the glory of Islam." .. Those who die defending the faith and Ummah, are the one's who die a martyrs death and get 72 virgins?
    In Response

    by: Mauson from: Poland
    March 23, 2016 10:37 AM
    Good point, I agree with You

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