Belgium Hunts ‘Third Man’ After ISIS Bombings

The “third man” was filmed with two Islamic State suicide bombers at Brussels Airport.

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A writing on the asphalt
reads “Brussels forever” at the place de la Bourse in the center of Brussels,
where people write hundreds of messages on the ground to remember the victims
of todays attack. (Photo: AP)

Belgian police were hunting on Thursday for a “third man” filmed with two Islamic State suicide bombers at Brussels Airport as investigators accumulated evidence that the same jihadist network was involved in the deadly Paris attacks last November.

As pressure mounted on Europe to improve cooperation against terrorism, EU interior and justice ministers were to hold emergency talks on a joint response to Tuesday’s Brussels bombings, which killed at least 31 people and injured 270.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls led calls for a “strong European response”, but officials say many states, including France, withhold their most cherished data despite a mantra of willingness to share intelligence.

Turkey’s president criticised Belgium for failing to track Brahim El Bakraoui, a convicted armed robber whom it deported last year and who blew himself up at the airport on Tuesday an hour before his brother Khalid, a fellow convict, killed about 20 people at Maelbeek metro station in the city centre.

The interior and exterior of the Brussels airport that was attacked allegedly by ISIS on Tuesday morning. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)
The interior and exterior of the Brussels airport that was attacked allegedly by ISIS on Tuesday morning. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Security sources told Belgian media the other suicide bomber at the airport was Najim Laachraoui, a veteran Belgian Islamist fighter in Syria suspected of making explosive belts for November’s Paris attacks, who also detonated a suitcase bomb at the airport.

The third suspect captured on airport security cameras, pushing a baggage trolley into the departures hall alongside Laachraoui and Brahim El Bakraoui, is now the target of police searches.

TV grab showing the Brussels attackers. (Photo: <a href="https://twitter.com/ReutersTV/status/712939405552586752">Twitter</a>)
TV grab showing the Brussels attackers. (Photo: Twitter)

The bespectacled man wearing a cream jacket and a black hat fled the scene, federal prosecutors said, and a third suitcase bomb, the biggest of the three, exploded later as bomb disposal experts were clearing the area.

Public broadcaster RTBF said investigators now believed a second bomber was involved in the metro attack close to European Commission headquarters.

The man was spotted on security cameras carrying a heavy bag, but his identity was unknown and it was not clear if he had died or escaped.

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