Terrorists attacked Brussels’ transportation system, killing at least 30 people and injuring dozens of others after explosions ripped through the airport and subway system Tuesday morning.
The attacks are believed to be in response to the arrest of the mastermind behind the November Paris attacks that left more than 130 people dead. Suspect Salah Abdeslam warned authorities after his arrest that he created a network that planned new attacks.
The Guardian has reported an ISIS flag and an “explosive device with nails” were found in a raid conducted in a northern suburb of Brussels.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said “what we feared has happened.” Calling it “a tragic moment,” and called for people to remain “calm” and show “solidarity.”
While Brussels was attacked, it is feared that Europe has been targeted, according to French and Belgium leaders.
Two explosions destroyed the departure hall at the Brussels airport shortly after 8 a.m. The Associated Press reported that one occurred at an excess baggage payment counter and the other near a Starbucks cafe. Prior to the explosion, witnesses said they heard shots from men who were yelling in Arabic.
Terrorists then blew up a train that was stopped at the Maelbeek subway station. The bomb went off on the metro car.
The Associated Press reported that Gary Herbert, the governor of Utah, confirmed that three of the people injured in the attacks at the Brussels airport were Utah residents and missionaries for the Mormon church: 66-year-old Richard Norby, 20-year-old Joseph Empey and 19-year-old Mason Wells, according to the Associated Press.
France 24 (English) spoke terrorism expert Wassim Nasr who said that the sophistication and timing of the attacks indicates these were planned well in advance, probably before Abdeslam was arrested. When he was arrested Abdeslam said he had a large terror network throughout Europe and attacks were already planned.
Several news outlets are reporting that it’s possible the attackers didn’t know each other or Abdeslam, that it was coordinated through extremely secretive covert communications that flew under the radar of intelligence-gathering agencies that have all but cut off the usual forms of electronic and digital communication.
Nasr told France 24, “Those are not crazy people, those are people very determined and are acting upon a plan. This is how they should be treated and apprehended — and even studied.”
The Associated Press has reported that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
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UPDATE: Belgium’s public television network, RTBF, is reporting the Belgian authorities have identified the two airport suicide bombers as brothers Ibrahim and Khalid and el-Bakraoui. Both had criminal records, but until now had not been linked directly to any terror networks.
Evidence collected from garbage near the apartment where bomb-making material was found included a note on a discarded computer from Ibrahim el-Bakraoui that said, “… in a hurry, no longer know what to do, being searched for everywhere, no longer secure.”
According to Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw it indicated the terrorists knew, or at least had fears, the authorities were getting closer to finding them. In the note Ibrahim el-Bakraoui said he didn’t want to end up in a jail cell next to Salah Abdeslam, who had been captured a week earlier.
Authorities now believe the same bomb maker constructed the bombs that terrorized Paris in November and the bombs used yesterday.
The Washington Post reported Turkish authorities say they had deported Ibrahim el-Bakraoui to the Netherlands in July 2015, and that they told European authorities he was a “foreign terrorist fighter.”
A fourth suspect, whose bomb did not go off at the airport, is still being sought.
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