Europe

Najim Laachraoui confirmed to be 2nd Brussels airport bomber, linked to Paris

Najim-Laachraoui
In this image provided by the Belgian Federal Police on Monday, a combo photograph shows Najim Laachraoui, who was previously identified in a false passport as Soufiane Kayal by Belgium Federal Police. (AP)

Belgium’s federal prosecutor confirmed on Friday that Najim Laachraoui was one of the two suicide bombers who struck Brussels airport this week, killing 31 people. The prosecutor also confirmed Laachraoui’s link to the Paris terror attacks in November in which 130 people were killed.

Laachraoui‘s DNA was found on a suicide vest and a piece of cloth discovered at the Bataclan concert hall where 90 people died in the attack. Police also found his DNA on a bomb at the Stade de France , a statement said.

CCTV footage showed three bombers at Brussels airport on Tuesday, with Laachraoui and Ibrahim El Bakraoui now being named as the two who blew themselves up there.

A third man on the right of the CCTV frame, wearing a light coloured coat and a hat, fled the scene, apparently after his bomb, said to be the largest of the three, failed to detonate.

The police have launched a massive search for this third man.

The prosecutor’s office also confirmed that Laachraoui had previously used the false identity of Soufiane Kayal.

Key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam went to the Hungarian capital Budapest in September and on his return was stopped by police on the Austrian border with two men — Soufiane Kayal, as he was then known, and Samir Bouzid.

Abdeslam was arrested in central Brussels last Friday.

Laachraoui, 24, went to Syria in early 2013.

He was a good student with an immaculate disciplinary record at a Brussels Catholic school, and friends and family remember a bright easy-going kid who liked to play frisbee and football.

“I don’t understand how anyone can be brainwashed so quickly,” Brice Vanhee, a college friend from his first year electro-mechanical engineering course in 2012, said on Facebook.

“How can you switch sides and blow yourself up when you used to play frisbee tournaments every weekend? I don’t get it!”

A picture on Vanhee’s page shows a group of eight students including Laachraoui smiling at the camera.

belgium-paris-attacks
In this undated combination photo provided by the Belgian Federal Police in Brussels on March 21, 2016, suspect Najim Laachraoui is Laachraoui also allegedly travelled to Hungary in 2015 with the top suspect in the Paris attacks. (AP)

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