The federal prosecutor told a news conference that Ibrahim el Bakraoui, 29, one of two men who blew themselves up at Brussels airport on Tuesday, had left an audio clip addressed to his mother on a computer dumped in a rubbish bin near the militants’ hideout.
In it, he described himself as “always on the run, not knowing what to do anymore, being hunted everywhere, not being safe any longer and that if he hangs around, he risks ending up next to the person in a cell” — a reference to suspected Paris bomber Salah Abdeslam, who was arrested last week.
His brother Khalid El Bakraoui, 27, detonated a bomb an hour later on a crowded rush-hour metro train near the European Commission headquarters, prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said.
Both men, born in Belgium, had criminal records for armed robbery but were not previously linked by investigators to Islamist militants.
The RTBF report yesterday said the brothers were known to police for past crimes, but nothing relating to terrorism. The broadcaster said Khalid El Bakraoui had rented an apartment which was raided by police last week in an operation that led authorities to top Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam.
The Bakraoui brothers were identified by their fingerprints and on security cameras, the prosecutor said. The second suicide bomber at the airport had yet to be identified. The third bomber was confirmed last night as
Najim Laachraoui, 25, a suspected Islamic State recruiter and bomb-maker whose DNA was found on two explosives belts used in last November’s Paris attacks and at a Brussels safe house used by Abdeslam before his arrest last Friday. Authorities had dubbed him Europe’s most wanted man.
Khalid El Bakraoui had rented under a false name the apartment in the city’s Forest borough, where police hunting Abdeslam killed a gunman in a raid last week. He is also believed to have rented a house in the Belgian city of Charleroi used to mount the Paris attacks.
Last week, Belgian police said they were hunting for a suspected Abdeslam accomplice, Najim Laachraoui. He is believed to have made the suicide vests used in the November attacks in Paris, in which 130 people were killed, according to a French police official who said Laachraoui’s DNA was found on all of them and in a Brussels apartment where they were made.
The airport and several Brussels metro stations remained closed yesterday. Security forces stood guard around the neighbourhood housing headquarters of EU institutionsas nervous Brussels residents began returning to school and work under a misty rain.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks and warned of more strikes against anti-IS allies.
It issued a communique promising “dark days” for countries taking part in the coalition against the terror group.