Lead Belgian bomber, still at large, recently IDed as key suspect in Paris attack

Special to WorldTribune.com

One of the terrorists caught on camera just before the Brussels airport bombing, who remains at large, is a key suspect in the November attacks in Paris, authorities said.

Belgian authorities identified brothers Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui, who were Belgian nationals, as the suicide bombers who blew themselves up at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station.

The three chief suspects pictured in CCTV as they pushed suitcases using trolleys at Zavantem airport. /Belgian federal police/EPA
The three chief suspects pictured in CCTV as they pushed suitcases using trolleys at Zavantem airport. /Belgian federal police/EPA

Meanwhile, police are searching for a third suspect, identified as Najim Laachraoui, who was caught on video at the airport and managed to escape.

Laachraoui, a 24-year-old whose nationality was not given, had only recently been identified as a key suspect in the Paris attacks. He had previously been sought in connection with the November attacks under his alias, Soufiane Kayal. His DNA was found in two hideouts used by the Paris attackers and also on explosive material, prosecutors said.

Laachraoui, who is said to have traveled to Syria in 2013, was believed to be a key recruiter for Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in Brussels, targeting local Muslim youth.

Two of the three men captured on CCTV moments before twin bombs exploded at Brussels airport appeared to be wearing a black glove, fueling speculation they were used to conceal detonators for explosive charges in their suitcases. Laachraoui is believed to be the man on the right in the CCTV video.

The footage, taken in the departure hall at Zaventem airport shortly before 8 a.m. on March 22, shows the three men pushing luggage carts moments before two explosions that killed at least 11 people and injured more than 90.

Meanwhile, Turkey reported that in 2015 it had deported Ibrahim el-Bakraoui after he was linked to foreign fighter networks as part of a Turkish police investigation.

After he his arrest, el-Bakraoui was deported to the Netherlands, per his own request, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Belgian authorities were informed of his arrest, but they said that they had no information specifically linking him to terrorism. He was not otherwise known to the Belgian authorities.

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