Terrorists in Brussels attacks arrested, charged

April 14th, 2016


Four men were arrested and charged for the terrorist attacks on March 22, 2016 at the Brussels airport. One of the men arrested was the infamous “man in the hat,” according to Belgian authorities. The “man in the hat” was caught on camera along side two of the other bombers, who blew themselves up on the day of the attacks. The man is Mohammed Abrini, a Moroccan. He is also a suspect for the attack in Paris last November, according to ABC News.


The “man in the hat” phrase comes from security footage of the terrorist standing in the Brussels airport before the attack.


Belgium’s Federal Prosecution Office told ABC News that Abrini, after being interrogated by authorities, had confessed to being “the vest- and hat-wearing man” escorting the two bombers right before the attack. French authorities had been looking for Abrini because he was caught on camera with Salah Abdeslam, one of the suspected attackers in the Paris bombings, in a gas station several days before the attacks, NBC News reported. Prosecutors said that on that day, Abrini was driving a Renault Clio driven by the Paris attackers later on, according to NBC News. BBC  News reported investigators saying that Abrini’s fingerprints and DNA were found two safe houses in Brussels and the Renault Clio.


The other three men are revealed to be Osama Krayem, who used the alias Naim al-Ahmed, Bilal El Makhoukhi and Herve B.M.


According to CNN, several hours after the Brussels bombing, French investigators sent out a bulletin to European security services describing that Osama Krayem was “very dangerous and probably armed.” Magnus Ranstorp, a Swedish counterterrorism expert at the Swedish National Defense College, told CNN that Krayem was a resident of Malmo, Sweden. Swedish counterterrorism services had known Krayem and suspected that he had joined the Islamic State. Krayem posted pictures of himself with automatic weapons and the Islamic State flag and his final post on Facebook from Syria was in January 2015. Prosecutors said Krayem was also caught on camera when he went shopping for bags used in the Brussels attack.


Reuters reported from Belgium’s Justice Minister Koen Geens that El Makhoukhi was originally sentenced to five years in prison for working with terrorist recruiters. But after three years of suspension, he was allowed to serve the remaining term at home with electrical monitoring and was released since March 15, 2016. And Herve B.M., a Rwandan, had been charged for helping Mohammed Abrini and Osama Krayem.


These arrests were considered a huge success for Belgian authorities, who had been heavily criticized for the ineffective handling of terrorist leads before the attack in Brussels, according to ABC News. Despite the arrests, Brussels is still under the second-highest terror alert, which means another attack is considered highly possible, ABC News reported. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said in a news conference in Brussels that Belgian government would continue to stay alert for terrorist threats; “We are positive about the recent developments in the investigation. But we know we have to stay alert and cautious.”


Editor’s Note: Information from ABC News, NBC News, CNN, Reuters, BBC News and The New York Times was used in this report.