Two Main Terror Suspects Arrested in Belgium

At approximately 8am local time on March 22, Brussels, Belgium was rocked by two explosions at the Brussels Airport and, an hour later, a third on board a subway train as it pulled into a station. The explosions have left 32 innocent people dead with 316 injured, 62 of them critically. 4 of them have been identified as American citizens.

An airport worker reported hearing gunfire and someone shout in Arabic before the bombs went off. Belgium’s federal prosecutor has confirmed that the blasts were suicide bombings. Reports say that the interior of the airport has been significantly damaged and that an assault rifle and an additional explosive device was found inside, which was detonated in a controlled explosion. ISIS has claimed responsibility and one widely circulated post on Twitter warns “What will be coming is worse.”
This all comes only four days after the Belgian authorities captured Salah Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French citizen who is suspected of having direct involvement in the Paris terrorist attacks that occurred four months ago and was also perpetrated by ISIS. It’s believed that Abdeslam’s arrest hastened the attacks, possible before he could expose them to interrogators.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel says “We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened. This is a day of tragedy, a black day.”
Belgium raised its terrorism threat to its highest level and security around the world, including in the United States, was increased in response to the attacks. A flood of international support, including from the United States, has been given to Belgium. Belgian authorities have identified the two of the bombers as Brussels-born brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui and the third has been identified as Moroccan Najim Laachraoui. All three evaded capture during the raid that captured Salah Abdeslam and were a part of the same terror cell that carried out the Paris attacks, which Abdeslam was a member of.

Several hours after the attacks, the police were pointed to a home in a suburb of Brussels and in it they found a nail bomb, chemicals, and an ISIS flag. A computer belonging to one of the brothers was also found in the trash nearby. One man, identified as Fayçal Cheffou, was arrested under the belief that he may have been the man in seen in the airport with the suicide bombers, but two days later, he was released due to a lack of evidence against him.

In the aftermath of the bombings, Belgian authorities carried out a series of raids to arrest people connected to the attacks, but there were two that were specifically wanted: one who was spotted with the Metro bomber and one who was spotted with the two airport bombers. The one at the airport became known for his light-colored coat and dark-colored hat and is suspected of dropping the third bomb at the airport which failed to detonate. On April 7, Belgian authorities released new video of the “Man in the Hat” after leaving the airport and a day later, two men, identified as Osama Krayem and Mohamed Abrini, were arrested in Brussels. When confronted with photos of the “Man in the Hat,” Abrini confessed that he was indeed the man. Since the bombings, he had thrown away his coat and sold his hat. In fact, Abrini is suspected of being directly involved in the Paris attacks in addition to the Brussels ones. Krayem in the meantime is the man spotted with the Metro bomber shortly before he detonated his bombs.

Now, Belgian prosecutors are saying that the Brussels ISIS cell had originally planned a second attack on Paris, but changed their minds and decided to strike Brussels when investigators from Paris were closing in on them. A recent edition of an ISIS magazine has also released new details about the bombers.