Belgian police arrest suspect in Brussels airport attack

Authorities in Belgium have arrested Mohamed Abrini who is a suspect in both the Paris attack that killed 130 people last November and, according to multiple reports published today, in the Brussels airport bombing.


Authorities have been seeking to capture Abrini because he was seen at a gas station two days before the Paris attack driving a car that was later used to transport suicide bombers to their destinations. At the time he was in the company of Salah Abdeslam, another suspect in the Paris attack who was captured by police last month.

In addition to his apparent involvement in the Paris attack, BBC is reporting that Abrini is believed (but not yet confirmed) to be the 3rd man seen in security video from the Brussels airport, the so-called man in the hat:

Sources cited in Belgian media say Abrini is also likely to be the “man in the hat” seen on CCTV before the blasts in the Brussels airport departure hall on 22 March…

The individual in the footage was seen beside the two suicide bombers at Brussels airport. He left the airport shortly before the blasts.

Abrini, 31, a Belgian national of Moroccan origin, is believed to have been filmed at a petrol station with Salah Abdeslam, another arrested Paris attacks suspect, two days before the attacks there.

Abrini and brothers Salah and Brahim Abdeslam were all childhood friends from Brussels.

On Thursday, authorities published a video clip (in French and German) detailing the movements of the “man in the hat” after the airport attack. The footage shows the suspect walking out of the airport after the bombing and even breaking into a run at one point. Later, having ditched his jacket somewhere in the city, he continues walking through the streets. Authorities were looking for help from anyone who might have found the jacket or saw which way the suspect went after he passed out of view of security cameras. However, neither the video nor the text offered any name for the suspect.


The raid that captured Abrini also included the arrest of a second suspect believed to have been involved in the Brussels Metro attack. The Wall Street Journal reports the other suspects’ name is Osama Krayem:

The official said that Mr. Krayem was seen on surveillance camera in the subway system before the attack talking with Khalid el-Bakraoui, the suicide bomber who struck at Maelbeek station.

The video footage also showed Mr. Krayem with a backpack similar to the one in which Mr. Bakraoui carried his bomb, the U.S. official said.

Mohamed Abrini’s younger brother traveled to Syria in January 2014 where he became a fighter for ISIS. The younger brother was killed in August of that year.

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David Strom 6:40 PM | April 18, 2024