Belgium arrests key suspects in Paris and Brussels attacks – prosecutors

Belgium arrests key suspects in Paris and Brussels attacks – prosecutors

Belgium arrests key suspects in Paris and Brussels attacks – prosecutors

Written by Staff Writer

09 Apr, 2016 | 5:59 am

Mohamed Abrini, wanted for November’s Islamic State attacks in Paris, was among five people arrested in Brussels on Friday (April 8), Belgian prosecutors said, adding that he was also involved tied to last month’s Brussels bombings.

He was arrested at Place Albert in (the Brussels borough of) Anderlecht,” federal prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt said at a news conference, adding Abrini’s fingerprints had been found in multiple safe houses and a vehicle used in the Paris attacks.

“At the moment, the investigators are verifying whether (Abrini) can be positively identified as being the third person present during the attacks in Brussels National Airport (in) Zaventem, the so called ‘man with the hat’,” Van Der Sypt said.

The arrests mark a signal success for Belgian security services, which have faced fierce criticism at home and abroad since Brussels-based militants organised the attacks that killed 130 in Paris on Nov. 13 and 32 at home four months later.

The arrests came a day after police issued new images and detail on the “man in the hat”. They follow the arrest in Brussels on March 18 of a key surviving suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam. He was seen driving with Abrini towards Paris two days before the attacks in the French capital.

Four days after Abdeslam was arrested, the brothers Brahim and Khalid El Bakraoui and a third local man, Najim Laachraoui, set off bombs that killed 32 people at Brussels airport and on a metro line running under European Union institutions

Another suspect held on Friday may be a man seen with Khalid Bakraoui at a metro station shortly before Bakraoui blew himself up on a train on the same line downtown.

Prosecutors named him as Osama K, adding he had used the false name Naim al-Hamed. Prosecutors said he had also been caught on CCTV buying holdalls at a downtown mall that were later used in the Brussels bombings.

Van Der Sypt said Osama K. was identified by police near Ulm in Germany some weeks before the Paris attacks in a car rented by Salah Abdeslam. Authorities did not confirm reports that he was a Swede named Osama Krayem, a former fighter in Syria who may have returned to Europe along with other militants among refugees who reached the Greek island of Leros in September.

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