• France's news in English
Brussels bombers had direct links to Paris attackers
The suspects believed to be behind the Brussels attacks. Photo: AFP

Brussels bombers had direct links to Paris attackers

The Local · 23 Mar 2016, 08:30

Published: 23 Mar 2016 08:30 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Belgian state broadcaster RTBF have released the names of two of the suspected suicide bombers involved in Tuesday's attack at Brussels airport and on the Metro.

They are said to be brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui. The pair were well know to police as longstanding criminals.

Quoting a police source RTBF say Ibrahim (pictured above in the centre of the photo and below in the tweet) was one of the men who targeted the airport while his brother Khalid was behind the suicide bombing at Maelbeek metro station.


This has not been officially confirmed by authorities. If RTBF are right then the second airport bomber, presumed to be the man in the tweet below, remains unidentified.

The El-Bakraoui brothers had clear links to the jihadists who carried out the deadly attacks in Paris in November and in particular to Salah Abdeslam, the chief surviving suspect of the Paris attacks who was captured on Friday.

Khalid El Bakraoui, used a false name to rent the flat in the Forest area of Brussels which was the scene last Tuesday (March 15th) of gun battle between police and unknown suspects.

Algerian Mohamed Belkaid was shot and killed during the police raid, but authorities later confirmed that two gunmen were able to escape.

There were suggestions that one of the fugitives was Salah Abdeslam, who was eventually tracked down and arrested last Friday in Molenbeek, but that was never confirmed by police. It's now possible that it was the el-Bakraoui brothers who fled the flat under a hail of bullets.

The same brother who rented the Forest flat also rented out a hideout in the town of Charleroi that had been used by the Paris cell before the November attacks.

Second airport bomber named

One of the brothers is also suspected of providing ammunition and weapons for the Paris attacks. The pair were among the Paris suspects on the run and being hunted by Belgian police.

(The two El-Bakraoui brothers and Salah Abdeslam in the middle)


On Wednesday the third suspect  was was named by Belgium media as Najim Laachraoui (see photo below). He was already wanted by police in connection with the Paris attacks.

Belgian media had reported that Laachraoui has been arrested in Anderlecht on Wednesday morning, but later in the morning those reports were proved to be premature as authorities denied the arrest.

There was a further twist later on Tuesday was named as the second airport bomber on the left of the photo below.

DNA Laachraoui, 24, was found at an apartment in Brussels where bomb-making equipment and one of Abdeslam's fingerprints had been found in December.

His DNA was also found on explosives used in the Paris attacks. Prosecutors have said Laachraoui "travelled to Syria in February 2013," and was registered under a false name at the border between Austria and Hungary last September.

He was travelling with Abdeslam and Mohamed Belkaid, who was killed in a Brussels raid three days before Abdeslam was captured.

Belkaid is believed to have provided logistical support to the Paris

The third man, pictured in the photo above on the right dressed in white, has still not been identified and police in Brussels are appealing for information to find him.
It is believed he fled the airport after failing to detonate the bomb he was pushing in his trolley.
Salah Abdeslam was said to have been planning an attack in Brussels. Prosecutors have said he was "cooperating" with investigators, but whatever they gleaned from him was not enough to prevent Tuesday's attacks.
Story continues below…

There was speculation that the bombings may have been to revenge Abdeslam's arrest, but most experts belive it was more likely that a planned attack was simply brought forward, perhaps out of fear that Abdeslam would give them up.

Did he give them up too late from police to stop the bombings or did he keep the plan hidden from investigators? Given his links it would be surprising if he knew nothing about the plan to attack the airport and the Metro.

Intelligence services, will come under more scrutiny over whether they could have prevented Tuesday's bombings given the names of the attackers were on their radar.

Speaking on Wednesday morning French PM Manuel Valls said:"At this stage more than 30 people have been identified as linked to the Paris attacks. Eleven are dead, 12 are under lock and key and others are still wanted." 
"Were some of them involved in the Paris attacks? We will see, the investigation will reveal this," he added.
"These attacks are organised from Syria... with a base, it is obvious, in Belgium but also in France."



Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available