Paris, Apr 14: The Islamic State fighters who carried out the attacks in Brussels honed their skills through combat in Syria, and the sibling suicide bombers were also crucial to planning the Paris attacks, according to the extremist group’s magazine released today. In the English-language magazine Dabiq, the group drew a direct line between the two attacks and made no mention of the key suspects captured in Belgium.
“All preparations for the raids in Paris and Brussels started with” brothers Khalid and Ibrahim El-Bakraoui, the group said. Brussels was home to many of the attackers who struck the French capital November 13 with suicide bombings and volleys of assault weapons fire that left 130 people dead. According to Belgian and French investigators, the same cell was behind the suicide bombings that killed 32 people in Brussels on March 22. Also Read: Brussels attacks: Mohamed Abrini confesses being ‘man in the hat’, says he transported bags to suicide bombers
The younger El Bakraoui blew himself up in a rush-hour Brussels subway train, killing 16 victims. That same morning, his older brother was one of two suicide bombers who detonated explosives-laden suitcases at Brussels Airport, killing another 16. The other airport bomber was Najim Laachraoui, the bomb maker for both the Brussels and the Paris attacks, who left for Syria in 2013 and was an early recruit for the Islamic State group.
It is “firstly due” to the El Bakraouis that the attacks in the French capital occurred, Dabiq said. Subsequently, it said, Khalid El Bakraoui had a dream to carry out another attack. The magazine also prominently mentioned Mohamed Belkaid, the IS fighter who was killed covering Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam’s escape from a hideout “during the final stages of preparation for the raid in Brussels.”
It said Belkaid, who had Swedish residency, took part in some of the extremist group’s most important battles, including the capture of Ramadi, and decided to return to Europe with Laachraoui for an attack. Although it was light on new details, the magazine article offered a glimpse of how the attack cell was constructed and how the plot formed among supporters in Belgium and Syria.
Abdeslam, who returned from France to Belgium after his brother blew himself up in the Paris attacks, is entirely absent from the narrative, as is Mohamed Abrini and Osama Krayem. All three were captured in the Brussels area, Abdeslam just a few blocks from the Molenbeek home where he grew up. A Belgian television network today released previously unknown footage from Molenbeek of Abdeslam, whose role in the Paris attacks has never been defined and who is not formally linked to the Brussels bloodshed.