Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Belgian officials ignored warnings last June that one of the brothers suspected of blowing himself up in Tuesday’s deadly Brussels attacks was a terrorist, Turkey's president said Wednesday.
Ibrahim El-Bakraoui, a petty criminal born and raised in Brussels and suspected of being the bomber who blew himself up at Zaventem Airport, killing at least 11, was nabbed crossing into Turkey from Syria nine months ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said. Turkish officials said they told their counterparts in Brussels of his likely involvement with ISIS, which has claimed credit for Tuesday’s attacks.
A Turkish official said Dutch authorities allowed Bakraoui to go free because Belgian authorities could not establish any ties to terrorism.
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Bakraoui was reportedly deported back to Europe, choosing to go to The Netherlands before making his way back to Brussels. Police who raided his apartment Tuesday found a note left by the Islamic fanatic in which he said he wrote of his desperation.
"I don't know what to do. I'm looked for everywhere and I might even find myself in a jail cell," read a portion of the letter, recited by Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw at a Wednesday news conference.
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Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told reporters Sunday, two days before the attacks, that Abdeslam told Belgian authorities "he was ready to restart something from Brussels."
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More than 470 people have left the tiny European country to become foreign fighters as of Octber 2015. That's fourth in Western Europe overall, but first in fighters per capita. At least 118 of those 470 have returned, according to the Soufan Group analysis.
Turkey says Belgium ignored warning about jihadi bomber
Published March 23, 2016
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The security services knew, with a high degree of certainty, that attacks were planned in the very near future for the airport and, apparently, for the subway as well.
Despite the advance warning, the intelligence and security preparedness in Brussels, where most of the European Union agencies are located, was limited in its scope and insufficient for the severity and immediacy of the alert.
As far as is known, the attacks were planned by the headquarters of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Raqqa, Syria, which it has pronounced as the capital of its Islamic caliphate.
EXCLUSIVE: Belgian Intelligence Had Precise Warning That Airport Targeted for Bombing
Attack in subway likely also known in advance by Belgian and Western agencies; attack plan was formulated at de-facto ISIS capital of Raqqa, in Syria.