The death toll stands at 31 from yesterday’s coordinated ISIS-terrorist attacks in Brussels.
We’re getting some details from the Belgian prosecutor.
There were three explosions. Two explosions hit the Zaventem airport in Brussels around 8 am local time (3 am Eastern) in the departure area. One was in the entryway and the other near the American Airlines ticket counter. Both were suicide bombings. 10 people were killed and 100 wounded. A third bomb was left at the airport and safely deactivated, according to the Associated Press. The bomb, in a suitcase, contained the biggest explosive charge; it exploded right after the bomb squad arrived.
Another explosion followed at 9:11 am local time (4:11 am Eastern) in the Maelbeek metro station near central Brussels. The explosions at Maelbeek were on a metro car, part of a three-car train that had just pulled out on its way to the next station. The metro explosion alone killed 21 people and injured 106, 17 of them seriously
Belgium’s federal prosecutor identified two suspects as two brothers with criminal records, Khalid el-Bakraoui, 27, and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, 30, as well as a third man, who they did not identify, who is still at large. Ibrahim el-Bakaraoui was killed in the suicide bombing at the airport, and Khalid el-Bakraoui was killed in the suicide bombing in the metro.
Belgian police released video from the airport that showed three men, allegedly the attackers, pushing luggage carts. The man in the center is Ibrahim el-Bakraoui. The man to his left has not been identified but is thought to be another suicide bomber. They are searching for the man who is wearing a dark hat and light jacket in the photo.
The cab driver who took the bombers to the airport was able to help Belgian police find the apartment where the men stayed. Investigators found a nail bomb, chemical products and an ISIS flag during a house search in the northeast Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek, Belgium’s federal prosecutor said in a statement.
They also found a laptop computer which contained a will/suicide note from Ibrihim El Bakraoui in which he wrote: “Being in a hurry, I don’t know what to do, being searched for everywhere, not being safe, if it drags on it could end up with me in a prison cell next to him”, which French media have reported is a reference to suspected Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam.”
This suggests a couple of things to me. The rapid unraveling of the ISIS network on Brussels, culminating in the arrest of one of the Paris terrorist late last week, forced the hand of ISIS. Obviously, it would have been preferable to bring down the net on the entire operation before these attacks, but we can take some solace in the fact that they were panicky and running.
Also, it looks like the Brussels attack and the Paris attack may have come from the same network, maybe even the same cell or extended cell. There are some reports that the bombmaker in both attacks may be the same person. If so, then it is gratifying to know that the problem — while serious — may not be as widespread as the fearmongers suggest.