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Brussels bomber for ISIS Najim Laachraoui DID die in attack

  • Second bomber at Brussels airport identified as master bombmaker Najim Laachraoui, the man on the left in CCTV 
  • Laachraoui was originally thought to be the man in white coat, who is unidentified and still being hunted by police
  • Ibrahim El Bakroaoui, pictured in the middle of the CCTV, blew himself up alongside Laachraoui at the airport 
  • His brother Khalid carried out a suicide attack at Maalbeek metro station 79 minutes later, killing 20 passengers
  • Four other men alleged to have been seen ‘shadowing’ blasts from inside a car owned by a known extremist 

By

Martin Robinson

and
Emma Glanfield

and
Tom Wyke for MailOnline


Published:
13:48 EST, 23 March 2016

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Updated:
02:22 EST, 24 March 2016

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At least five Brussels terror suspects including the ‘Man in White’ are said to be on the run today after suicide attacks left at least 34 people dead.

Four of the men had allegedly been seen ‘shadowing’ the blasts from inside an Audi S4 car registered to a known extremist on a watch list.

They are being hunted along with the fifth individual, the ‘Man in White’, who was seen dressed in a raincoat and hat ahead of Tuesday’s airport attack.

The Audi and a Renault Clio were seen close to the airport and both are feared to have come with the attackers who arrived in a taxi, reported The Sun.

Yesterday, the second suicide bomber who blew himself up at Brussels airport was identified as master bombmaker Najim Laachraoui. 

The second suicide bomber (left) who blew himself up at Brussels airport has been identified as master bombmaker Najim Laachraoui as police search for the mystery man in white. The bomber in the middle is believed to be Ibrhaim al-Bakraoui.

The second suicide bomber (left) who blew himself up at Brussels airport has been identified as master bombmaker Najim Laachraoui as police search for the mystery man in white. The bomber in the middle is believed to be Ibrhaim al-Bakraoui.

Laachraoui is believed to be the bomber on the left of the CCTV footage, having previously been thought to be the mystery man in white.

Like Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, pictured in the middle, he wears a single black glove on his hand to hide the trigger to his deadly device.

The third suspect, dressed in the white coat and dark hat, is still being hunted by police. Ibrahim’s brother Khalid carried out a suicide attack at Maalbeek metro station.

One of the theories is that the mystery man in white could possibly be Khalid, who Belgian authorities have confirmed was the metro bomber.

In this scenario, he would have dropped his explosive devices off at the airport before boarding a metro train to Maelbeek and detonating another device 79 minutes later.

The Belgian authorities were warned one of the Brussels killers was a terrorist – but he was allowed to walk free, Turkish officials have said.

Ibrahim El Bakraoui, one of the suicide bombers who killed 14 people at the airport, was caught in June at the Turkish-Syrian border and was deported to the Netherlands.

The Turkish authorities said it warned Belgium and the Netherlands he was a ‘foreign terrorist fighter’, but the Dutch authorities allowed him to go free because the Belgian authorities could not link him to terrorism.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that ‘despite our warnings that this person was a foreign terrorist fighter, Belgium could not establish any links with terrorism’.

Prosecutors said at least 31 people were killed and 270 injured in the three suicide bomb attacks at an airport and metro station in Brussels on Tuesday morning, and the death toll could rise.

Panic: A fire caused by one of the explosions in the terminal is tackled by airport staff with extinguishers surrounded by baggage and falling roof tiles

Panic: A fire caused by one of the explosions in the terminal is tackled by airport staff with extinguishers surrounded by baggage and falling roof tiles

Explosion: The image above is being used by the Belgian media who claim this is the damage caused by the bomb at the Maelbeek Metro station in central Brussels. It has not been verified by the authorities but is being widely circulated on social media

Explosion: The image above is being used by the Belgian media who claim this is the damage caused by the bomb at the Maelbeek Metro station in central Brussels. It has not been verified by the authorities but is being widely circulated on social media

Ibrahim El Bakraoui, who is also known as Brahim, and Najim Laachraoui died in the coordinated blasts while a Ibrahim’s brother Khalid detonated his explosive device on the metro an hour later.

A massive international manhunt has been launched to hunt down the’ man in white’, pictured with two of the men at Zaventem Airport shortly before the blast.

He is thought to have left a bomb carrying the ‘biggest charge’ which failed to explode.

French media said he is also linked to the Paris terror attacks last November which saw 130 people killed and many more injured in strikes across the capital.

Reports said his DNA was found on explosive belts found at the Bataclan theatre and the Stade de France following the killings.

As security services continue to comb the country hunting for the mystery man in white, it emerged that Ibrahim El Bakraoui left a note in a bin.

In the testament, found on a computer dumped in a bin in the Schaerbeek area in Brussels, he told how he was ‘on the run’ and did not ‘know what to do’.

Brussels bomber Khalid El Bakraoui
Brussels bomber Ibrahim El Bakraoui

Brussels bombers: Brothers Khalid (left) and Ibrahim El Bakraoui (right) were able to evade security services despite being notorious gangland criminals who were well known to police, it emerged

Devastating: Workers continued to pick through the debris at Brussels airport yesterday as the windows of the terminal remained heavily shattered from the twin attacks on the Belgian capital which has rocked Europe. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the horrific bombings

Devastating: Workers continued to pick through the debris at Brussels airport yesterday as the windows of the terminal remained heavily shattered from the twin attacks on the Belgian capital which has rocked Europe. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the horrific bombings

Carnage: There were scenes of devastation at the main terminal at Brussels national airport yesterday as rescue workers and officials continued to pick through the rubble following the two bomb blasts on Tuesday morning which killed 14 people and injured scores more

Carnage: There were scenes of devastation at the main terminal at Brussels national airport yesterday as rescue workers and officials continued to pick through the rubble following the two bomb blasts on Tuesday morning which killed 14 people and injured scores more

Appalling scenes: An injured man lies bleeding on the floor of Zaventem airport in Brussels

Appalling scenes: An injured man lies bleeding on the floor of Zaventem airport in Brussels

First aid: A private security guard helps a wounded women outside the terror-struck Maalbeek metro station in Brussels

First aid: A private security guard helps a wounded women outside the terror-struck Maalbeek metro station in Brussels

Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw told a press conference: ‘We have found a written testament by Brahim El Bakraoui in which he said: ‘I don’t know what to do. I’m in a hurry. I’m on the run. People are looking for me everywhere. And if I give myself up then I’ll end up in a cell.”

The latest twist came after it was revealed the Belgian El Bakraoui brothers escaped police in a gunfight during an anti-terror raid just eight days ago. 

Laachraoui – now revealed as the second airport suicide bomber – was already one of the world’s most wanted men, having built the suicide vests used in the Paris attacks and went on the run with Salah Abdeslam, one of the other Paris massacre masterminds, before hiding in Brussels for four months.

He is suspected of rigging up the suicide vests that helped kill 34 in twin attacks on Tuesday and is believed to have done the same for the Paris attacks.

Yesterday it emerged there could have been another suitcase bomb set off in the airport but the ISIS fanatics couldn’t fit all their explosive-packed bags into a taxi outside their safehouse. They refused to let the driver touch the bags – prompting him to later contact the police about their suspicious behaviour.

Investigators are now desperate to track down the ‘Man in White’ – the third ISIS suspect pictured at the airport – as well as Mohamed Abrini, who was thought to be a close friend of the ‘Man in White’ and Abdeslam, for his possible involvement in the mass slaughter in the Belgium capital on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s twin terror attacks on the Belgian capital left at least 34 people dead and are believed to have been revenge for Saleh Abdeslam’s capture. Experts believe the jihadists launched the Brussels attacks because the net was closing in on their terror cell.

United in grief: The people of Brussels stand together during a minute of silence around a makeshift memorial at Place de la Bourse at midday yesterday

United in grief: The people of Brussels stand together during a minute of silence around a makeshift memorial at Place de la Bourse at midday yesterday

Gripped by grief: A heartbroken mother is comforted by her two children as she pays her respects to the 34 terror attack victims in Brussels this afternoon

Gripped by grief: A heartbroken mother is comforted by her two children as she pays her respects to the 34 terror attack victims in Brussels this afternoon

Sombre: A woman weeps after people observed a one minute silence at the Place De La Bourse in honour of the victims of the terror attacks

Sombre: A woman weeps after people observed a one minute silence at the Place De La Bourse in honour of the victims of the terror attacks

Anger: An overwhelmed mourner yells to the skies in Place De La Bourse as he and thousands of other met to show their defiance to the ISIS bombers who brought terror to their city

Anger: An overwhelmed mourner yells to the skies in Place De La Bourse as he and thousands of other met to show their defiance to the ISIS bombers who brought terror to their city

Most recently they had been on the run since March 15 following a shoot-out in a terrorist hideout in the Belgian capital’s Forest suburb. They opened fire on police and fled.

The raid carried out last Tuesday on a flat in the suburb of Forest saw a sniper kill terror suspect Mohamed Belkaid while the El Bakraoui brothers managed to escape police.

There was initial speculation that the raid had aimed to capture Paris-terrorist Abdeslam, but he escaped through a loft window, but this was later denied by a police spokesman.

Officers had been acting on a tip-off in connection to the Paris terror attacks, and carried out the raid in Forest, which is close to Molenbeek, where several jihadis behind the Paris attacks lived and is known as the cradle of terrorism in Europe.

Yet the group still managed to find another address to stay, where they stored the explosives and guns used in Tuesday’s attacks.

Police also confirmed yesterday that those who carried it out have were part of a larger cell who carried out the Paris attacks four months ago.

Khalid El Bakraoui also rented the apartment where Paris terror attacker Salah Abdeslam was captured by anti-terror police last Friday, according to respected Belgium news organisation RTL.

Belgium started three days of mourning yesterday after the bombings claimed the lives of 34 and left more than 250 injured in 79 minutes of rush hour carnage. The dead and injured have 40 different nationalities, including two Britons.

Despite a Government warning to stay at home thousands have gathered in the centre of the city to light candles, leave flowers and write messages of hope on the ground in defiance of the terrorists who carried out the the worst terror attacks in Belgium’s history.

Mother-of-two Adelma Tapia Ruiz, 36, was the first named victim of the Brussels terror attacks so far. The Peruvian national had lived in Belgium for nine years, was on her the way to visit relatives in New York with her twin daughters when she died in the double suicide bombing at Zaventem Airport.

Ms Tapia’s three-year-old twins Maureen and Alondra, and her Belgian husband Christopher Delcambe, survived the explosion on Tuesday morning.

Brussels-born law student Leopold Hecht, 20, was seriously wounded in the explosion in at Maelbeek Metro Station, and later succumbed to his injuries.

The third victim whose identity has been released was also killed in the metro bomb. Olivier Delespesse was reportedly on his way to work at a government organisation for Belgian French-speakers, when he died in the second bombing.

The girlfriend of a British father missing after the Brussels attacks is among desperate relatives searching the city’s hospitals in the hope of finding their loved ones.

Victim: Adelma Tapia Ruiz, 36, died in the terrorist attack in Brussels on Tuesday, while her three-year-old twins Maureen and Alondra, and her Belgian husband Christopher Delcambe, survived

Victim: Adelma Tapia Ruiz, 36, died in the terrorist attack in Brussels on Tuesday, while her three-year-old twins Maureen and Alondra, and her Belgian husband Christopher Delcambe, survived

Brussels-born law student Leopold Hecht, 20, was seriously wounded in the explosion in at Maelbeek Metro Station, and later succumbed to his injuries
Belgian Olivier Delespesse was reportedly on his way to work at a government organisation for Belgian French-speakers, when he died in the blast on the metro train

Brussels-born law student Leopold Hecht, 20, left, was seriously wounded in the explosion in at Maelbeek Metro Station, and later succumbed to his injuries. Belgian Olivier Delespesse, right, was reportedly on his way to work at a government organisation for Belgian French-speakers, when he died in the blast on the metro train

David Dixon, from Hartlepool, has not been in contact with his partner Charlotte Louise Sutcliffe since leaving for work on Tuesday

David Dixon, from Hartlepool, has not been in contact with his partner Charlotte Louise Sutcliffe since leaving for work on Tuesday

New York siblings Sascha (pictured)  and Alexander Pinczowski were at Brussels Airport at the time of the two explosions inside a terminal
Alex Pinczowski is described as being about 6ft 1ins, with short brown hair. He has a beard, brown eyes and is diabetic

New York siblings Sascha (pictured)  and Alexander Pinczowski (right)  were at Brussels Airport at the time of the two explosions inside a terminal – they haven’t been seen since

David Dixon has not been in contact with his partner, Charlotte Sutcliffe, since the bombs went off and may have been on the Brussels Metro at the time of Tuesday’s explosion at the Maalbeck underground station.

The IT programmer, who lives in Brussels but is originally from Hartlepool, County Durham, was travelling to work on Tuesday morning but did not arrive at his office.

The 53-year-old would have travelled through Maelbeek station, where the attack happened.

Friends have been appealing for information on his whereabouts on social media and asking anyone with information to contact his Ms Sutcliffe.

American siblings Sascha and Alexander Pinczowski were at Brussels Airport at the time of the two explosions inside a terminal and have not been seen or heard from since the incidents.

According to Dutch media reports, the pair were on the phone to their family when the blasts took place and then the line went dead.

The Pinczowskis, both from New York, were at Brussels Airport at the time of the two explosions inside a terminal and have not been seen or heard from since the incidents.

American Mormon missionary Mason Wells, 19, was injured in the horrifying Brussels airport terrorist attack after having previously survived the Boston bombing and the Paris attacks . He suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, injuries from shrapnel and second- and third-degree burns on his face and hands after the bombing.

Chad Wells, Mason’s father, told ABC News: ‘This is his third terrorist attack’ adding he and Mason were a block from the finish line of the Boston Marathon, where the bombing took place in 2013. The teen was also in Paris last year during the attacks.

A haunting image of Nidhi Chaphekar, a married mother of two, went viral on social media in the aftermath of the attack, with #PrayForNidhi trending on social media. Covered in dust and blood, Nidhi is pictured amid the chaos in the tattered remains of her yellow Jet Airways jacket.

THIRD BRUSH WITH TERROR: AMERICAN MORMON, 19, LEFT WITH BURNS AND SHRAPNEL INJURIES IN BRUSSELS ATTACK ALSO SURVIVED THE BOSTON AND PARISH BOMBINGS

Miracle: Mormon missionary Mason Wells, 19, pictured, was injured in Brussels airport and also survived the Boston bombing and the Paris attacks

Miracle: Mormon missionary Mason Wells, 19, pictured, was injured in Brussels airport and also survived the Boston bombing and the Paris attacks

An American Mormon missionary was injured in the horrifying Brussels airport terrorist attack after having previously survived the Boston bombing and the Paris attacks. Mormon missionary Mason Wells, 19, was injured along with his two colleagues and suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, injuries from shrapnel and second- and third-degree burns on his face and hands after the bombing.

‘This is his third terrorist attack,’ Chad Wells, Mason’s father, told ABC News.

‘This is the third time that sadly in our society that we have a connection to a bomb blast

‘We live in a dangerous world and not everyone is kind and loving.’

Chad said he and Mason were a block away from the finish line of the Boston Marathon, where the bombing took place, waiting for Mason’s mother, Kymberly Wells, who was a runner.

‘It had shaken their bodies and he had taken Mason to our hotel and said to stay there.

‘Mason was very calm and composed,’ Kymberly told ABC News.

Mason is currently in a Belgian hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, he told his parents. He was at ‘ground zero’ of the blast zone when the bombs went off.

Chad said a Mormon official relayed to the Wells family that Mason, ‘despite being on the ground and bleeding actually had a sense of humor and remained calm through the situation’.

‘Mason has always assured us that he is safe and careful.

‘I told him first and foremost always be aware of your surroundings, please be very careful when you’re traveling be very observant to people around you,’ Kymberly said.

The teen was also in Paris last year during the attacks.

He shared with us that he was extremely close to the blast where he was burned by it,’ Chad said.

‘It’s a blessing from God he’s alive.’

Joseph Empey, who was with Mason, was also injured in the attack.

The 20-year-old was treated for second-degree burns to his hands, face and head. 

A police sharpshooter takes aim from a helicopter hovering over Brussels' rooftops following the attacks

A police sharpshooter takes aim from a helicopter hovering over Brussels’ rooftops following the attacks

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Armed Belgian police officers gather outside a building as they conduct searches at a number of addresses

A masked officer is seen searching one apartment during the raids in the city's terror district

A masked officer is seen searching one apartment during the raids in the city’s terror district

Investigation: Forensic teams used laser lights to search for clues in the Brussels suburb of Schaerbeek

Investigation: Forensic teams used laser lights to search for clues in the Brussels suburb of Schaerbeek

It has since emerged that the El Bakraoui brothers each had extensive criminal records and were both jailed several years ago for shocking crimes involving Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Khalid was also listed on an Interpol ‘red notice’ – an alert to police forces around the world saying that he was wanted in Belgium on terrorism charges.

Yet they were still allowed to play a major for ISIS, providing ammunition and renting out a number of safe houses where the Brussels and Paris attacks were plotted before martyring themselves. 

Ibrahim blew himself up in the check-in hall of Zaventem airport while Khalid attacked a metro train at Maalbeek station near the EU headquarters, Frederic van Leeuw told a news conference.

According to Belgian news website 7sur7, Ibrahim was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2010 for firing at police with an AK-47 assault rifle during a robbery.

Khalid was also given a five-year jail term in early 2011 for possessing AK-47s and committing a series of car-jackings, it was reported. It is not clear when they were released from prison.

Their use of Kalashnikovs, a signature weapon for ISIS and other extremist groups, will raise questions about why they were not monitored more closely by security services.

The revelations are the latest in a series of failures by security chiefs facing damaging questions about why the siblings and other members of the cell were able to slip through the net.

Passengers shield themselves under bags as smoke and debris fill the terminal in the moments after the twin blast at Brussels Airport

Passengers shield themselves under bags as smoke and debris fill the terminal in the moments after the twin blast at Brussels Airport

A soldier walks through debris after two explosion rocked a terminal building at Brussels Airport - but security sources say Belgian police already have CCTV of at least one bomber and the explosion

A soldier walks through debris after two explosion rocked a terminal building at Brussels Airport – but security sources say Belgian police already have CCTV of at least one bomber and the explosion

Blast zone: The two bombs are believed to have gone off in these areas of the arrivals hall, as thousands were checking in for flights 

Blast zone: The two bombs are believed to have gone off in these areas of the arrivals hall, as thousands were checking in for flights 

The safe house rented by the El Bakraoui brothers in the Brussels district of Molenbeek where Paris and Brussels logistics chief Salah Abdeslam was arrested in a police raid last Friday after four months on the run

Paris and Brussels logistics chief Salah Abdeslam (left) was arrested (right) while trying to flee his safehouse in the suburb of Molenbeek close to his family home and near the district’s police station

Both were released early from prison – although it is not clear when.

But at some point Khalid linked up with the terror cell behind the Paris attacks and used a false name to rent a property in the city of Charleroi as a hideout.

In the hours before the November massacre, logistics chief Salah Abdeslam and his brother Brahim are believed to have stopped at the apartment to pick up weapons before going on to unleash hell on the French capital.

Khalid later rented out a flat, also under an alias, in the Brussels suburb of Forest which was stormed last week by police hunting Salah Abdeslam.

Khalid and his brother, Ibrahim, are believed to have escaped during a shoot-out with police in which another militant, Mohamed Belkaid, was killed.

Belkaid, an Algerian national who was illegally in Belgium, was found with an ISIS flag, AK-47 assault rifle and a book of jihadist literature next to his body.

At the time police said: ‘two persons [the El Bakraoui brothers] who were probably in the flat fled the scene and are being tracked down’.

Less than one week later, Khalid and Brahim El Bakraoui carried out the terrorist attack at Brussels airport and as passengers queued to check in for flights at around 8am local time (7am GMT) the first blast rang out.

People fled towards the entrance of Brussels Zaventem Airport, a second much bigger blast in front of them brought down much of the ceiling and sent razor-sharp shrapnel, body parts and clouds of thick dust and smoke billowing through the building.

Belgian terror expert Pieter Van Ostaeyen says French prosecutor indicating that Abdeslam had started talking to police may have triggered the attack.s

‘The three terrorists thought their network would be exposed and carried out their terror plan before this happened as a pre-emptive move,’ he told Aftonbladet.

‘It happened today [Tuesday], maybe weeks or months before the planned date.

‘The French prosecutor should not have talked so much. He sent out the wrong signals to the ISIS network still intact in Europe, so it was high time for them to act and that’s exactly what happened.

‘The Belgian police investigation was leaking, and that’s why it happened now,’ he adds.

Belgian intelligence services are already under intense pressure to explain a number of failures that have allowed members of the ISIS cell to operate under their noses in the capital.

Brussels bombers: Khalid El Bakraoui (left) detonated his suicide vest on a Brussels Metro train at Maelbeek station just 79 minutes after his brother Ibrahim El Bakraoui (centre) blew himself up with an explosives-packed suitcase at Brussels airport. Ibrahim was accompanied by another suicide bomber, who was dramatically identified as explosives expert and bombmaker Najim Laachraou (right)

Brussels bombers: Khalid El Bakraoui (left) detonated his suicide vest on a Brussels Metro train at Maelbeek station just 79 minutes after his brother Ibrahim El Bakraoui (centre) blew himself up with an explosives-packed suitcase at Brussels airport. Ibrahim was accompanied by another suicide bomber, who was dramatically identified as explosives expert and bombmaker Najim Laachraou (right)

On the terror watch list: Khalid was on an Interpol 'red notice' – an alert to police forces around the world saying that he was wanted in Belgium on terrorism charges

On the terror watch list: Khalid was on an Interpol ‘red notice’ – an alert to police forces around the world saying that he was wanted in Belgium on terrorism charges

Raid: Police stormed a property in the district of Anderlecht-Brussels yesterday and were seen collecting bags of possible evidence

Raid: Police stormed a property in the district of Anderlecht-Brussels yesterday and were seen collecting bags of possible evidence

Collecting evidence: Forensic police leave a house  in the district of Anderlecht-Brussels, while others carry evidence found during a raid

Collecting evidence: Forensic police leave a house in the district of Anderlecht-Brussels, while others carry evidence found during a raid

New raid: Special forces stormed a pizzeria in Anderlecht at just after dawn yesterday - with some Belgian media wrongly claiming Najim Laachraoui was inside. Forensics officers took away evidence in brown bags after a man and two women were taken into custody

New raid: Special forces stormed a pizzeria in Anderlecht at just after dawn yesterday – with some Belgian media wrongly claiming Najim Laachraoui was inside. Forensics officers took away evidence in brown bags after a man and two women were taken into custody

 

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