Live-Blog Day 2: Tracking the Fallout of the Brussels Attacks
Foreign Policy is tracking the second day of breaking news out of Brussels.
On Wednesday, Belgian officials identified two of the suicide bombers who launched attacks that killed at least 31 and injured another 270 people in Brussels as Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, 29, and Khalid el-Bakraoui, 27. Both were known by Belgian authorities because of earlier criminal records, but neither were known to have direct ties to terrorism before a raid earlier this month. Ibrahim and a man who was identified later Wednesday as Najim Laachraoui detonated themselves at the Belgian capital's international airport early Tuesday morning. Khalid blew himself up on the city's subway system roughly an hour later. Authorities there are now hunting for a fourth suspect they believe fled the airport Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Belgian officials identified two of the suicide bombers who launched attacks that killed at least 31 and injured another 270 people in Brussels as Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, 29, and Khalid el-Bakraoui, 27. Both were known by Belgian authorities because of earlier criminal records, but neither were known to have direct ties to terrorism before a raid earlier this month. Ibrahim and a man who was identified later Wednesday as Najim Laachraoui detonated themselves at the Belgian capital’s international airport early Tuesday morning. Khalid blew himself up on the city’s subway system roughly an hour later. Authorities there are now hunting for a fourth suspect they believe fled the airport Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Foreign Policy live-blogged the immediate aftermath of the bloody attacks, including the Islamic State’s claims of responsibility that it had carried them out. FP is once again tracking developments with a live-blog of news emerging from Brussels and elsewhere.
4:15 p.m. European and Arab officials are confirming that Najim Laachraoui detonated himself and that his DNA was found on explosives at the airport.
2:50 p.m. The second suicide bomber at the Brussels Airport has reportedly been identified as Najim Laachraoui.
2:20 p.m. Additional details emerged Wednesday about the criminal records of the two brothers alleged to have carried out the suicide bombings at a Brussels subway station and the city’s airport.
They were both well known to investigators prior to Tuesday’s attack. Khalid was convicted in 2011 for carjacking and sentenced to five years in jail. A year earlier, Ibrahim was sentenced to a nine-year stint in prison for firing at police during a robbery attempt. He broke parole last year and has eluded authorities since then.
With investigators still examining the smoldering sites of Tuesday’s attacks, investigators and the media have honed in on a CCTV image of three men pictured at the Brussels Airport.
Ibrahim el-Bakraoui has been identified as the man in the center of that image. Ibrahim and the man to the left, who remains unidentified, are shown wearing black gloves on their left hand, prompting speculation that they may have concealed detonators within them. They are shown pushing trolley carts laden with large suitcases, possibly containing explosives. Both men died carrying out bombings at the airport.
Police are now feverishly hunting for the man at the right of that CCTV image. Belgian media have identified that man, shown wearing a hat and white jacket, as Najim Laachraoui, described as either 24 or 25.
On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said one of the Brussels bombers was detained in Gaziantep, a border town in the country’s southeast that serves as a gateway for men and materiel headed for the Syrian civil war. Erdogan said the man was deported back to Belgium. A Turkish official later told Agence France-Presse that the bomber was Laachraoui.
The bomb on Laachraoui’s trolley was described by Belgian authorities as the most powerful of the bunch, but it failed to detonate during the attack. A Belgian bomb disposal team examined the device before it exploded due to what authorities said was the “instability” of the explosive compound. Triacetone triperoxide (TATP), the Islamic State’s signature explosive in the attacks it has carried out in Europe, can be made using common, household materials but is notorious for its unstable nature.
Laachraoui is also known as Soufiane Kayal, and in September he was stopped at the border between Austria and Hungary while traveling under that alias with Salah Abdeslam, who was arrested Friday and has been described as the logistics chief for the Paris attacks.
2:10 p.m. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Belgium Friday on his way back from meetings in Moscow. “He will reiterate the strong support of the United States for Belgian efforts to both investigate these attacks and continue contributing to international efforts to counter violent extremism,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
12:30 p.m. Speaking alongside Argentinian President Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States will “continue to go after ISIL aggressively until it’s removed from Syria and from Iraq and finally destroyed,” using an acronym for the Islamic State. He added that defeating the extremist group is his No. 1 priority. He also criticized Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s suggestion Tuesday that Muslim communities in the United States need to be monitored to root out extremism, saying that it “doesn’t make sense” and goes against basic American values.
11:45 a.m. The State Department announced Wednesday that about a dozen U.S. citizens have been injured in Tuesday’s deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels. A spokesman said the United States is unaware of any American deaths; however, some Americans, including embassy or consulate personnel, remain unaccounted for. “We are making every effort to account for the welfare of both [embassy and consulate] personnel and U.S. citizens in the city,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
FP reporters John Hudson and Elias Groll contributed to this report.
Photo credit: AURORE BELOT/AFP/Getty Images
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