Next Stop For ISIS: Nuclear Power Plant? Brussels Police Race Against Time
Brussels terrorists were lining up plans to take over a nuclear power station, authorities said. During a December raid in the apartment of Mohammed Bakkali, a suspect in the ISIS terror cell, anti-terrorist police discovered 12 hours of video footage that revealed their next potential activity. Islamic State group members were watching the home of the research and development director of the Belgian Nuclear Program, tracking his movements and possibly planning a kidnapping, according to the Daily Mail.
Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui, the brothers who blew themselves up in Brussels attacks on Tuesday, were spying on the nuclear director.
The footage was confusing at first, since it showed the entrance to the director’s home. It was documenting the activities of the top nuclear researcher and his family. But after watching the entire 12 hours, police determined that the group’s agenda was to get inside a nuclear plant.
Claude Moniquet, a French former intelligence official who was hired to investigate potential plots targeting Europe’s nuclear sector, told NBC News that the brothers had used a hidden camera to monitor the home.
“The terrorist cell… naively believed they could use him to penetrate a lab to obtain nuclear material to make a dirty bomb.”
Belgium has thus far refused to release the name of the director for security reasons and the protection of him and his family. But Belgium’s Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) spokesman Lodewijk van Bladel confirmed to NBC News on Thursday that he is “one of the top researchers” at the SCKCEN Belgian nuclear research center in Mol, 45 miles northeast of Brussels.
“If terrorists are filming one of the top guys in the research center then it is very serious. It means they are planning to do something afterwards with that information… I don’t think they going to make a family movie.”
The SCKCEN nuclear center stores a “significant portion of the world’s supply of radioisotopes,” according to the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.
The isotopes are utilized in hospitals and factories all over the world. They can also be used to make “dirty bombs,” which, if detonated, could spray radioactive material over a wide area.
Nele Scheerlinck, another spokeswoman for FANC, said that kidnapping was a possibility.
“We can imagine that the terrorists might want to kidnap someone or kidnap his family.”
Armed troops have been dispatched to nuclear facilities in France and Belgium, and both countries are on high alert. All non-essential staff have been sent home.
Investigators now confirm definite links between the Paris and Brussels attacks. One Brussels bomber, Khalid El Bakraoui, is thought to have rented a safe house for the Paris attackers. Najim Laachraoui made the bombs used in the Paris attack. He was identified as one of the Paris airport attackers.
It is suspected that the smackdown by Belgian police, in their hunt for fugitives from the Paris attacks, caused a swift and desperate change of plans on the part of the ISIS-affiliated terrorists. This theory is further confirmed by the discovery of a suicide note by one of the Brussels airport bombers, as described in this article by the Inquisitr.
Report: Brussels bombers originally considered targeting nuclear site https://t.co/5kEKv4ETy9 pic.twitter.com/gnTjJqUWIy
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) March 24, 2016
The Bakraoui brothers and Laachraoui were all wanted by police before the Belgium attacks in connection with terrorism, according to the Telegraph. Ibrahim El Bakraoui had been flagged by the Turkish government as a member of the Islamic state. The message resonated throughout Europe that more effort was needed to be made in the interest of anti-terrorism.
Two Belgium cabinet ministers offered to resign over security failures involving Ibrahim El Bakraoui after he was deported from Turkey.
Flights in and out of Brussels have been canceled through Sunday as the city remains on high alert.
Brussels police believe five bombers may have been involved in attacks https://t.co/V6epfY02xa
— The Guardian (@guardian) March 24, 2016
The manhunt continues for two more bombing suspects involved in the Brussels attacks, Fox News said. Police are searching for a man dressed in white who wore a dark hat and was caught in the airport surveillance video. He is believed to have planted a bomb and fled the scene.
The search is on too for a second man seen at the Metro station, who was seen carrying a large bag and accompanying Khalid El Bakraoui. He either died in the blast or is on the run.
[Image via Shevs/Shutterstock]