Two Men Charged With Aiding Brussels Suicide Bombers

Brussels-Airport-explossionsBelgian investigators have charged two men with aiding last month’s Brussels suicide bombers.

Mohamed Abrini, believed to have helped prepare the November 13 Paris attacks, was seized on a Brussels street on Friday and charged on Saturday.

Prosecutors said he confessed to being the “man in the hat” seen at the city’s airport with two suicide bombers on March 22. That further confirmed close links between the two operations.

In a statement, prosecutors also said they had confirmed that a second fugitive seized separately on Friday in Brussels was indeed the man seen with a third suicide bomber on March 22 who struck shortly afterward on the Belgian’s capital’s metro.

Reuters reports that he was identified by officials as Osama K. and widely named in local media as a 28-year-old Swede called Krayem .

He was also filmed buying bags used to carry the Brussels bombs and his fingerprints were found, like Abrini’s, in an apartment used as a bomb factory and safe house for the Brussels attackers.

Also like Abrini, Krayem was identified as associating with the prime surviving Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam in the days and weeks before the November bloodbath that left 130 people dead.

As with other suspects in both Paris and Brussels attacks, police believe Krayem returned from fighting with Islamic State in Syria via refugee boats last summer reaching Greek islands.

Abrini was tracked down the day after police released new images of “the man in the hat” pushing a laden baggage trolley similar to those of the two suicide bombers alongside him.

Abrini, 31, was well known to police as a petty criminal and drug dealer who was a regular at the bar run by the Abdeslam brothers in the Molenbeek district of Brussels which is home to many other Moroccan immigrant families. Prosecutors said he told them that he had sold the hat he used to conceal his features.

But while pleased with the performance of Belgium’s hitherto much criticised security services, Prime Minister Charles Michel warned that further threats to Europe were still live: “We are positive about the recent developments in the investigation,” he told a news conference.

“But we know we have to stay alert.”

Paris Attacks: Abdeslam’s Capture ‘Major Blow’ To ISIS – Cazeneuve

Salah AbdeslamFrance’s Interior Minister has said that the capture of a suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, is “a major blow” to the Islamic State (ISIS) group in Europe.

Bernard Cazeneuve said that security forces had managed to “incapacitate several individuals who are clearly extremely dangerous and totally determined.”

France is seeking suspect Abdeslam’s extradition from Belgium.

He was wounded and arrested in a dramatic raid in Brussels on Friday, after four months on the run.

French President, Francois Hollande, said Abdeslam’s arrest was “an important moment.

“The battle against terrorism does not end tonight, even though this is a victory.

“We must catch all those who allowed, organised or facilitated these attacks and we realise that they are a lot more numerous than we thought earlier and had identified,” Mr Hollande told a news conference on Friday with Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel.

Abdeslam was believed to have masterminded the Paris attacks which killed 130 people. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The suspect, a 26-year-old French national born in Brussels, had lived in the Molenbeek district of the Belgian capital before the Paris attacks.

Two Dead In Raid Of Flat In St Denis

st denis raidFrench prosecutor says two persons have died including a suicide bomber in a raid of a flat at a scene of a police standoff in Saint Denis,  following Friday’s attacks in Paris.

Three men have also been taken into custody by special forces and a man and woman have been arrested close to the St Denis flat.

Among those arrested by police is the possible owner of the apartment where the suspects are believed to have been holed up in Saint-Denis, AFP reports.

The man, who was not named, said he provided accommodation for two people in the apartment at 8 Rue du Corbillon after a friend asked him to do so. She told him they came from Belgium and needed a place to stay.

The target of police action in the Paris suburb of St Denis is the Islamic State militant, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was initially thought to have orchestrated the Paris attacks from Syria, police and justice sources said.

French media also reported that at least two people had been killed. There are also reports of a woman who detonated a suicide belt.

People living in or near St Denis have been subjected to rigorous security checks, as the operation in the suburb continues. The area itself has been sealed by the military.

Shops and schools have also been closed and transport was suspended.

Police, however, said that they believe the suspected mastermind of last week’s attacks, Abaaoud, is holed up in an apartment in Saint Denis, along with up to five other heavily armed people.

The official, nonetheless, said that scores of police, who stormed the building early on Wednesday were met with unexpectedly violent resistance.

Reinforcements were summoned and several people were injured.

French investigators believe that a Moroccan-origin Belgian jihadist masterminded the Paris attacks which killed at least 129 people.

Abaaoud is thought to be in Syria now with the Islamic State (ISIS) group.

The 27-year-old, grew up in Molenbeek, a district of Brussels known for its many Arab immigrants, blighted by high unemployment and overcrowded housing.

He is an associate of Salah Abdeslam, who is on the run and whose brother Brahim, blew himself up in Paris.