‘Man in the hat’ Belgian suspect arrested

Special to WorldTribune.com

The Brussels terror suspect known as “the man in the hat,” who had eluded authorities since the March 22 attacks, was arrested on April 8, reports said.

Officials confirmed the arrest of Mohamed Abrini, who is also suspected of being involved in the November attacks in Paris carried out by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

Mohamed Abrini
Mohamed Abrini

Abrini was seen in the attack convoy en route to Paris in the days ahead of the attacks but disappeared afterward.

The Associated Press and Belgian public broadcaster VRT, citing unidentified sources, said Abrini is believed to be the elusive airport fugitive who fled the scene after his bomb failed to detonate.

VRT reported he was arrested on April 8 in Anderlecht, a community located next to the jihadist hotbed Molenbeek district near Brussels.

The Belgian prosecutor’s office said “several arrests” were made on April 8 in connection to the March 22 attacks that killed 32 at Brussels Airport and a downtown subway station.

Among those arrested was a man seen talking with the suicide bomber in the Brussels metro, Khalid El Bakraoui, shortly before he carried out his attack. Belgian newspaper Le Soir said the suspect was identified as Osama K.

Reports say Abrini is a childhood friend of the Abdeslam brothers, Salah and Ibrahim, who grew up in Molenbeek. Salah, arrested four days before the Brussels Airport and metro attacks, told Belgian authorities he was involved in the Paris terror attacks. Ibrahim, his brother, blew himself up. Salah discarded his suicide vest and fled for Belgium.