Nabbed: Paris-Brussels suspect

Belgian Police.

Belgian Police.

Paris attacks suspect Mohamed Abrini has been arrested, Belgian prosecutors say, adding the man is also linked to the Brussels attacks.

At a press conference, an official from the federal prosecutor’s office announced police had made five arrests in connection with the deadly Islamic State group attacks on Brussels’ airport and metro last month, and the Paris attacks in November.

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The arrests mark a success for Belgian security services, which have faced fierce criticism at home and abroad since Brussels-based militants organised the attacks that killed 130 in Paris on November 13 last year and 32 at home four months later.


Interior Minister Jan Jambon, who offered to resign over the failure to arrest one of the suicide bombers months ago, tweeted congratulations to those involved in the arrests.

But there was no change in the national security alert level.

“The struggle against terrorism goes on,” Mr Jambon said.

Abrini linked to car, apartment used in Paris attacks

Belgium media said Abrini was arrested in the Anderlecht district of Brussels, next to the western district of Molenbeek — home to several other suspects linked to the Paris attacks.

The 31-year-old Belgian of Moroccan origin had been on Europe’s most-wanted list since being seen on a motorway service station CCTV video driving with key suspect Salah Abdeslam towards Paris from Belgium.


Abdeslam was set to immolate himself, but chickened out.

The car they drove was used two days later in the November 13 attacks.

Abdeslam’s elder brother was a suicide bomber in the series of attacks.

Abrini and Abdeslam also rented an apartment used by some of the Paris suicide attackers, prosecutors said.

Abrini’s fingerprints and DNA were found in two Brussels apartments, including the one from where three men — including the two bombers — took a taxi to the airport on March 22.

It was later found to have been used as a bomb factory.

Abrini is a childhood friend of Abdeslam, and is believed to have played a support role in the preparations for the Paris attacks.

Belgian authorities have told local media Abrini travelled to Syria in 2015.

Abdeslam was arrested in Brussels on March 18, four days before Islamic State suicide bombers struck in the city following a four-month manhunt.

He is being held in a high-security prison in the northern Belgian city of Bruges while awaiting his extradition to France.

“The federal prosecutor confirms that there have been several arrests in the course of the day in connection with the attacks on the airport and metro,” an earlier a statement said.

Faycal Cheffou

Investigators checking whether Abrini was ‘the man in the hat’. Image supplied by Capital Police.

Brussels attacks suspect detained

Another suspect held on Friday may be a man seen with Khalid Bakraoui at a Brussels metro station shortly before Bakraoui blew himself up on a train on the same line downtown.

Prosecutors named him as Osama K, saying he had used the false name Naim al-Hamed.

Prosecutors said he had also been caught on CCTV buying bags at a downtown mall that were later used in the Brussels bombings.

Osama K was identified by police near Ulm in Germany some weeks before the Paris attacks in a car rented by Salah Abdeslam, prosecutors said.

They did not confirm reports he was a Swede named Osama Krayem, a former fighter in Syria who may have returned to Europe along with other militants among refugees who reached the Greek island of Leros in September.

The Brussels attacks killed 32 people and wounded hundreds more.

Hunt continues for the ‘man in the hat’

Investigators have released new footage of “the man in the hat” in connection to the Brussels attacks.

The suspect left the Brussels airport shortly after the twin suicide bombings and was tracked on CCTV for several miles into the city centre.

Prosecutors said they were checking whether Abrini was the man in the hat.

Investigators have released new footage, urging people to look for the man’s discarded coat.

He had been difficult to identify from the footage, which showed him pushing a laden luggage trolley alongside the two men who blew themselves up with similar bags.

A third bomb was later found abandoned at the airport.

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