The key remaining suspect in November’s Paris terror attacks, Mohamed Abrini, has been arrested in Belgium, prosecutors confirmed.
Belgian media say Abrini is also likely to be the “man in the hat” seen on CCTV before bomb blasts in the Brussels airport departure hall on 22 March.
Five arrests were made on Friday. One suspect, Osama K, will be investigated over the bomb attack on the metro that followed the airport bombing.
The two attacks left 32 people dead.The gun and bomb attacks in Paris on 13 November killed 130 people.Two bombers died at the airport. A third man wearing a hat is seen on video walking with them. Authorities said he fled.
Investigators also are trying to determine whether a man arrested in a separate operation Friday was part of the second attack — at a Brussels metro station — an hour later. Osama Krayem — also known as Naim al Hamed — might be the second person “present at the time of the attack at the Maelbeek subway station,” Belgian federal prosecutor’s spokesman Eric Van der Sypt said.
Authorities have said Khalid El Bakraoui carried out the metro attack and Van der Sypt said that another person was seen with El Bakraoui before the subway blast.
Van der Sypt said surveillance video from a mall shows the second person buying the bags used in the airport attack.
Abrini, a 31-year-old Belgian-Moroccan, had been among Europe’s most wanted and was considered “armed and dangerous.”
Interior Minister Jan Jambon, who offered to resign over the failure to arrest one of the Brussels suicide bombers last year, tweeted congratulations to those involved in the arrests, as did the Belgian head of state, King Philippe.
But there was no change in the national security alert level and Jambon added: “The struggle against terrorism goes on.” Police searched premises in western Brussels late on Friday.
Belgium has struggled to contain a threat from hundreds of young men, many with chequered criminal histories and from the country’s substantial Moroccan immigrant community, who have traveled to Syria. For the size of its 11 million population, Belgium has the biggest contingent of Islamist foreign fighters.