Brussels suicide bomber worked at airport for five years: Report

  • AFP, Brussels
  • Updated: Apr 22, 2016 08:42 IST
An empty tarmac is pictured at the Brussels Airport as air traffic controllers go on a strike in Zaventem, Belgium. (Reuters Photo)

One of the jihadists who blew themselves up at Brussels airport last month had in fact worked at the site for five years until 2012, Belgium’s VTM television reported on Wednesday.

It had already emerged earlier that Najim Laachraoui also briefly worked as a cleaner at the European Parliament several years ago.

He was one of two suicide bombers at Brussels airport on March 22 in coordinated attacks that also struck a metro station in the city, killing 32 people overall.

For five years until 2012, Laachraoui “worked... at Brussels airport”, Flemish-language VTM reported, adding that he had been recruited by an agency.

It did not provide details about the kind of work Laachraoui was to have carried out there but said that airport staff are usually subject to a security check before being given access badges.

There has been no official confirmation of the report.

A man, who police said is Najim Laachraoui is suspected of being involved in the Brussels airport attack.

Traces of Laachraoui’s DNA have been found at a Brussels apartment where the suicide belts for the Brussels attacks were made.

The 24-year-old one-time electrical engineering student is also suspected of being the bomb-maker for last November’s Paris attacks that left 130 people dead.

Both attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State group.

On April 6, the European Parliament said one of the bombers had held a summer cleaning job at its Brussels headquarters in 2009 and 2010. Speaking to AFP, a source close to the inquiry named that person as Laachraoui.

Belgian prosecutors believe Laachraoui went to Syria in February 2013 where he joined IS. He resurfaced last September, two months before the Paris carnage, when he was stopped by police on the Austria-Hungary border.

He was using the false identity of Soufiane Kayal and was travelling with Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving Paris attacks suspect.

The Brussels bombings were carried out just four days after Abdeslam was arrested in the Belgian capital after a massive manhunt.

Also on Wednesday, VTM reported that a hidden prayer room had been discovered at Brussels airport shortly before the attacks, “where radicalised staff would meet to pray in secret”.

The airport shut the prayer room down at the request of police, VTM reported, adding that investigators have since drawn up a list of “at least 50 radicalised airport employees”.

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