The Brussels terror attack left dozens of people dead and hundreds more injured. As the world tries to swallow the news that ISIS has struck again, authorities in Brussels have turned their focus to finding anyone who may have been involved in this attack. According to Mail Online, one man’s name has been coming up frequently, and that is Najim Laachraoui.
The 24-year-old is said to be a skilled bomb-maker who traveled to Syria in 2013, perhaps for ISIS training. Not only was his DNA found on suicide belts used in Paris at the Bataclan Theatre and the Stade de France, but investigators believe that Najim Laachraoui may have been behind Tuesday’s attack in Brussels.
DOB: 18 May 1991
Alias: Soufiane Kayal
Wanted for bomb making #ParisAttacks
Find him pic.twitter.com/VVmvGOko09
— φ (@Th3_Guardians) March 21, 2016
Najim Laachraoui was reportedly in a car with Paris bomber Salah Abdeslam on September 9, 2015. The two men were driving in a rented Mercedes Benz along with Mohamed Belkaid — the man who was shot and killed by police on Friday during a raid — when they were stopped by guards at the Austria-Hungary border. Mail Online reports that Najim Laachraoui wasn’t “caught” at the time because he was using a fake I.D.
“The three men had posed as tourists heading to Vienna on holiday and did not raise suspicions when they were stopped by police. Laachraoui was also captured on CCTV with Belkaid four days after the attacks during a money transfer in a Western Union bank in the Brussels area.”
The Brussels terror attack involved at least three men, according to CNN. Surveillance footage from inside Brussels airport before the attack shows three men walking with luggage on trolleys, all thought to be suicide bombers, but one being called a “fugitive” tonight. Authorities believe that the two men dressed in dark clothing — each wearing one black glove on their left hand, perhaps to hide a detonator — set off their bombs and are likely among the dead. The third man, dressed in light-colored clothing, may be on the run after his luggage bomb did not go off. A bomb squad team found the undetonated bomb and set it off in a controlled environment.
It is unclear if authorities believe Najim Laachraoui was one of these three men.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) March 22, 2016
Having the remnants of this bomb is crucial to this case and to the war on terror in general. If the DNA of Najim Laachraoui can be found anywhere on this bomb, it could mean that he was behind the Brussels attack and that he could be planning future attacks in Europe using bombs that he himself made.
All Laachraoui would need are willing participants to detonate these bombs.
Najim Laachraoui’s current whereabouts are unknown. According to CNN, a cab driver in Belgium may have broken this case wide open today. The cab driver saw the surveillance picture above and immediately called authorities, recognizing the three men in the grainy still shot. He told police that he drove these three men to Brussels Airport earlier in the day and he gave police the address of where he picked the men up from.
“Several witnesses [said that] they had seen police special forces combing through the northeast Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek, cordoning off a train station there. Investigators found a nail bomb, chemical products and an ISIS flag during a house search in the neighborhood, Belgium’s federal prosecutor said in a statement.”
It is unclear if investigators have found anything tied to Najim Laachraoui inside the apartment building that they have been searching, but several bags have been taken out of the home over the past few hours.
Many feel that if Najim Laachraoui is caught, it could put a huge dent in ISIS’ upcoming terror plots. A manhunt for the third man in the above photo is underway tonight, but all eyes are peeled for Najim Laachraoui as well.
More details are expected to be released in the coming days.
[Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images]