Global Independent Analytics

Brussels suicide bombers 'were known to US security officials' ahead of attack

The latest reports confirmed at least 31 people dead and over 200 injured in Brussels attacks on Tuesday

Andrew Buncombe reporting for the Independent: It seems that US security services have listed the two suicide bombers from Brussels as potential terror threats before the attacks.

NBC News said that according to US officials, Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui were known to US counter-terrorism authorities prior to Tuesday morning, when the pair and a third man devastated the Belgian capital. However, they refused to specify on which of the many US terrorism databases the murderers were listed.

This brings up an uncomfortable question about the sincerity of Belgian authorities, who chose to describe the men as simple petty criminals, and claimed that they were not visible on their counter-terrorism radar.

Some people have already started to criticize the apparent reluctance of the country, which is home to both the European Union and NATO, to tackle Islamist radicals effectively in order to insure public safety.

The Associated Press said that the Dutch justice minister confirmed that one of the Brussels suicide bombers flew from Turkey to Amsterdam in July, but said that authorities were not told why and had no reason to detain him. 

Justice Minister Ard van der Steur said that El Bakraoui had a valid Belgian passport when he arrived in Amsterdam “so there was no reason to take any action” at Schiphol Airport. The purpose of his travel remains unknown.

What’s more perplexing, is the fact that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that El Bakraoui, was already caught in June 2015 near Turkey's border with Syria and asked to be deported to the Netherlands. Immediately after, Ankara warned Dutch and Belgian officials that he was a “foreign terrorist fighter.” 

Soon after the tragedy, Brussels Interior Minister Jan Jambon and Justice Minister Koen Geens presented their resignations to Prime Minister Charles Michel. Both requests were denied.

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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