Brussels attacks: Names of attackers and victims emerge

Authorities reveal details about men who attacked Belgian capital as identities of their victims become known.

Details are emerging about the men who carried out the deadly bomb attacks in the Belgian capital Brussels on Tuesday, and their 31 victims. 

Police continued to hunt a fourth suspect on Thursday, whose identity is unknown, but all three men who succeeded in blowing themselves up were named.

Two of the attackers who targeted Brussels Zaventem airport were named as Brahim el-Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui.

The third attacker, who appears besides the pair in a CCTV photo from the airport, is believed to be on the run after he failed to detonate his explosives.

The fourth bomber, who struck the Maelbeek metro station, was named as Khalid el-Bakraoui, Brahim’s brother.

The attacks, which killed 31 people – including the three bombers – and wounded hundreds more, were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. 


Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Brussels, said there was speculation in the media that there were more people involved in the attacks than are currently being pursued.

“They appear to suggest there is CCTV footage from the Maelbeek station of Khaled el-Barkaoui seen talking to another person at the station,” he said about reports in the De Standaard newspaper.

“The speculation is that the other person is connected in some way with the events that took place.”

Turkey detention

At least one of the attackers, Brahim el-Bakraoui, was detained near the Syrian border in Turkey in June last year on suspicion of being a foreign fighter.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters gathered in Ankara that he had been deported and Belgian authorities were warned of the potential the man posed.

“Despite our warnings that this person was a foreign terrorist fighter, the Belgian authorities could not identify a link to terrorism,” Erdogan said.

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Brahim el-Bakraoui, pictured in the middle of the airport surveillance photo, was identified using fingerprint records, Belgian Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said on Wednesday.  

Belgian authorities have yet to respond to Erdogan’s comments.

The second airport attacker, Najim Laachraoui, appears to the left of Brahim and the unknown suspect in the airport photo.

Laachraoui is believed to be the bomb-maker from last year’s Paris attacks. He is also suspected of harbouring Paris attacker Salah Abdesalam, who was captured in Brussels last week.

Authorities believe Laachraoui was also involved in the Paris attacks based on DNA evidence found on explosives used in the plot.

Brahim el-Bakraoui’s brother Khalid is also suspected of involvement in the attacks in France in November. Both were born and raised in Belgium.

Van Leeuw said one person detained in one of the raids remained in custody on Wednesday and was being questioned. 

 A man lights a candle at a memorial for victims of Tuesday's attacks [Martin Meissner/AP] 
 A man lights a candle at a memorial for victims of Tuesday’s attacks [Martin Meissner/AP] 

Victims identified

Information about those affected by the attacks has begun to emerge with the dead and wounded coming from around the world.

They included Adelma Tapia, who died in the blasts at Zaventem airport. The Peruvian national was travelling to meet her sister with her Belgian husband and twin daughters, who all survived, her brother told reporters.

American survivor, Mason Wells, escaped the attack on the airport with injuries to his lower body. The 19-year-old said he was in Boston during the marathon bombing in 2013 and in Paris as ISIL attacked the city in November.

“He was very close to the bomb he said when it exploded. It’s a miracle that he made it through as easy as he did with lower leg injuries and some shrapnel metal burns, light, minor burns,” said Chad Wells, Mason’s father.

IN PICTURES: Brussels attacks

At least 16 of the victims are at Leuven University Hospital where two of those undergoing treatment are children aged five and three. Medical teams are also trying to save 10 patients in intensive care.

“We hope that we can have all the victims surviving their injuries, but they will all have disabilities,” said Dr Stefaan Nijs, a senior surgeon at the hospital.

Continued threats

ISIL has made no secret of its intent to continue targeting European countries and thousands of its members are nationals of EU states.

A video posted after the attacks purported to show British ISIL members in the Syrian city of Raqqa celebrating the attacks on Brussels and vowing to attack British airports.

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Source: Al Jazeera