Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam has been extradited from Belgium to face trial in France.
Salah Abdeslam, 26, was wounded and arrested in a dramatic raid in Brussels on March 18 after four months on the run.
The French national was born in Brussels and lived there before the Paris attacks.
Salah Abdeslam would be held in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison in the Paris area, said Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas.
The co-ordinated attacks carried out by so-called Islamic State in Paris on November 13, 2015, claimed 130 lives and left dozens more severely wounded.
Belgium’s federal prosecutor said Salah Abdeslam had been “surrendered to the French authorities this morning [in execution of the European Arrest Warrant issued by France on March 19, 2016]”. He was then formally placed under arrest.
Although Salah Abdeslam was initially held at a prison in Bruges, he had most recently been in custody at a high-security jail at Beveren, near Antwerp.
He is charged in France with participation in terrorist murder and the activities of a terrorist organization.
He was also indicted by Belgian authorities last week over a shoot-out in the Forest area of Brussels in which four police were wounded, three days before he was arrested.
Earlier, French criminal lawyer Frank Berton told French media that he would be taking on Salah Abdeslam’s defence in France following a two-and-a-half-hour meeting between the two last Friday at Beveren.
Frank Berton BFMTV he hoped the man would be judged “for what he has done and not what he has not done… not for what he represents because he is the last survivor”. Most of the Paris attackers are now dead.
He described Salah Abdeslam as “falling apart because of the drama that unfolded in France” and said he wanted to explain his actions.
Frank Berton said he was aware of the risks in representing his client, but insisted “he has the right to a fair trial”.
Salah Abdeslam’s Belgian lawyer, Sven Mary, has spoken of the dangers he faced in representing him – telling France’s Liberation website that he was threatened, assaulted physically and verbally in his office, and that on occasion police had escorted his daughters to school.
Belgian transport minister Jacqueline Galant has stepped down over accusations she ignored lapses in security at Brussels airport before the attacks of March 22.
A confidential document shows security lapses at Belgium’s airports were identified by EU inspectors in 2015.
Jacqueline Galant had denied having seen the report, which was leaked by opposition parties.
ISIS attacks on Zaventem airport and a Brussels metro station left 32 people dead.
Belgian PM Charles Michel had previously defended Jacqueline Galant, and he had told parliament that her office had not seen the critical EU report.
However, on April 15, following the publication of further documents on April 14, Charles Michel said that “contrary to what was communicated to me” the report had been discussed, according to public broadcaster RTBF.
Charles Michel said he had met Jacqueline Galant on April 15 and following the meeting the minister submitted her resignation to the king.
Jacqueline Galant wrote in her resignation letter that “the orchestrated and theatrical confusion of the last 48 hours prevents me from continuing in the performance of my duties”.
The minister’s resignation followed that of Belgian federal transport agency chief Laurent Ledoux on April 14.
Laurent Ledoux had complained of a lack of funding from Jacqueline Galant and said that the minister herself should “take responsibility and step aside”.
Jacqueline Galant said on April 15 that she was shocked by the way Laurent Ledoux had resigned, and said he was carrying out a “media crusade”.
The 2015 European Commission report, published by public broadcaster RTBF, cited “serious deficiencies” and said airport security programs, air carriers and suppliers were “not adequately monitored”.
The two suicide bombers who attacked Brussels airport blew themselves up in the departures area and would not normally have faced any security checks.
The bomb attacks on the airport and Maelbeek metro station occurred just four days after Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam was caught near his home in Molenbeek. He had been on the run for four months.
Belgium’s parliament is to hold an inquiry into how the attacks were handled.
The interior and justice ministers both offered to resign in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, following revelations that Turkey had warned Belgian authorities about one of the attackers when it deported him back to Belgium, but the prime minister asked them to stay on.
Mohamed Abrini, who was arrested in Belgium on April 8, has admitted being the “man in the hat” seen with the suicide bombers at Brussels airport, prosecutors say.
Belgian prosecutors say Mohamed Abrini told investigators that he was at the scene of the March 22 bombings.
Mohamed Abrini, 31, is also wanted in connection with the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people last November.
He is one of six men arrested in Brussels on April 8. Four have been charged with terror offences.
The attacks at Zaventem airport and a metro station in Brussels left 32 people dead.
Officials believe those who carried out the Brussels and the Paris attacks were part of the same network backed by ISIS.
Mohamed Abrini was placed in detention by the Belgian judge in charge on the investigation into the Paris attacks. His fingerprints and DNA were found in two “safe houses” in Brussels, as well as in a car used during the Paris attacks, investigators say.
Mohamed Abrini – the key remaining suspect in November’s Paris terror attacks – has been arrested, Belgian media say.
He is also likely to be the “man in the hat” seen on CCTV before the blasts in the Brussels airport departure hall on March 22, sources cited in Belgian media say.
Belgian prosecutors confirmed that several arrests had been made in connection with the Brussels attacks.
The attacks on the Brussels airport and a metro station left 32 dead.
The gun and bomb attacks in Paris on November 13 killed 130 people.
Although the Belgian federal prosecutor confirmed that “there have been several arrests in the course of the day in connection with the attacks on the airport and metro”, they would give no further details.
Local media reports suggest that Mohamed Abrini, on the run for five months, was arrested in the Anderlecht district of Brussels.
The Associated Press quoted French police as saying that Mohamed Abrini was one of the arrested men. He had not been directly linked to the Brussels attacks until today.
Some media say that one of the other men arrested is suspected of helping suicide bomber Khalid el-Bakraoui at the Maelbeek metro station, but this has not been confirmed.
On April 7, Belgian authorities had released new video footage of the “man in the hat”, appealing for the public’s help in finding him.
The individual in the footage was seen beside the two suicide bombers at Brussels airport. He left the airport shortly before the blasts.
Mohamed Abrini, 31, a Belgian national of Moroccan origin, is believed to have been filmed at a petrol station with Salah Abdeslam, another arrested Paris attacks suspect, two days before the attacks there.
He and brothers Salah and Brahim Abdeslam were all childhood friends from Brussels.
Mohamed Abrini is believed to have driven twice with the brothers from Belgium to Paris and back on November 10 and 11.
A new footage of the key surviving Brussels airport attacks suspect, showing the route he took after leaving the area, has been released by Belgian prosecutors.
Prosecutors have asked members of the public who saw the man to come forward.
The man was tracked on CCTV footage until 09:50 local time and was wearing a hat and a light-colored jacket, officials said.
His trail was lost close to the EU institutions in Brussels’ city center, not far from Maelbeek metro station.
Prosecutors said the man had discarded the jacket, and have asked the public to report if it has been found.
Photo Belgian Police
The Brussels attacks killed 32 people on March 22.
Three attackers are believed to have targeted the airport, with two dying in the bomb blasts. Another died in the metro attack.
The “man with the hat”, as prosecutors called him, was captured pushing a trolley at Brussels airport next to the two suicide bombers in previously released CCTV footage.
The new footage shows the suspect briefly running amongst passengers as they try to escape the scene at the airport, before walking some 6 miles over a two-hour period.
He was last seen about 40 minutes after the Maelbeek metro bombing.
Federal prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt asked for those who “might have filmed or taken a photograph of the suspect” or believe they have any useful information, to call 0800 30 300 FREE (in Belgium) or 00 32 25544488 (from abroad).
One of the Brussels bombers once worked as a cleaner at the European Parliament, officials say.
The man had month-long summer jobs there in 2009 and 2010, the EU Parliament said, without revealing his identity.
However, sources say he is Najim Laachraoui, one of the airport bombers.
Belgian PM Charles Michel has defended his country’s approach to fighting terror threats, insisting Belgium is not a “failed state”.
Charles Michel said everyone in authority had to take a share of the blame for failings before and after March 22.
Najim Laachraoui, already a major suspect on the run after the Paris attacks in November, was named as one of the two bombers who targeted Zaventem airport.
The EU Parliament said the cleaning company had provided proof that the person hired had no criminal record at the time.
PM Charles Michel said 30 measures were being put place in Belgium, including a ban on pre-paid mobile phone cards.
“Our key message today is we return to normal life in Brussels and in Belgium,” the Associated Press quoted him as telling reporters.
“When there is an attack like that of course that’s a failure and nobody can deny this,” he said.
“[But] I cannot accept the idea that we’re a failed state.”
Belgium has been accused of taking an un-co-ordinated approach to terror threats because it has multiple institutions representing the country’s complex linguistic and political makeup.
The Brussels region alone has six police zones.
According to Belgium’s De Tijd newspaper, Charles Michel said it was “short-sighted to say a unified police force could have prevented the attacks”.
He said there had been some successes like the recent arrest of the surviving suspect of the Paris attacks last November, Salah Abdeslam, adding it had taken 10 years to track down al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks in the US.
The search for the March 22 attackers is not yet over as pictures taken at Zaventem airport show three men entering the terminal building with explosives.
Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui detonated their bombs and the third is thought to have escaped.
Brussels International Airport is ready to partially reopen but flights will not restart until Friday evening (April 1) at the earliest.
Zaventem airport has been closed since March 22 when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the departure hall.
The departures area would only be operating at 20% of normal capacity, the airport’s operators said in a statement.
The attacks on the airport and another suicide bomb on the Brussels Metro killed 32 people and injured hundreds.
ISIS has said it was behind the bombings.
The reopening announcement follows days of tests for a temporary check-in system at Zaventem.
“Brussels Airport Company has received the go-ahead from the fire services and the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority for a partial restart of passenger flights at the airport,” the airport’s statement said.
“The airport is thus technically ready for a restart of passenger flights in the temporary infrastructure foreseen for check-in.
“However, the authorities have yet to take a formal decision on the restart date. Until Friday evening no passenger flights will take place at Brussels Airport.”
Photo Getty Images
The airport said the temporary system could receive 800 departing passengers per hour, far fewer than normal.
However, the baggage reclaim and arrivals area was only slightly damaged and has since been made ready for use, it added.
“The final step for the restart is the formal political approval. In the meantime, it has been decided that there will be no passenger flights until Friday evening.”
Zaventem Airport CEO Arnaud Feist said earlier this week that the airport would take months to reopen fully.
Meanwhile, Brussels airport police have said they criticized security well ahead of the attacks.
In an open letter to authorities published by Belgian broadcaster VRT, police said they had sent “strong daily signals regarding the overall security at the airport”.
They complained “there had not been any security control of passengers or luggage from the airport complex right up to the centralized body searches” area.
They also alleged that too many airport employees had criminal backgrounds.
Police are still searching for the third man who took part in the airport attacks. The man, pictured on CCTV wearing a hat, was said to have fled the scene without detonating his explosive device.
The two airport bombers who died have been named as Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui.
Ibrahim el-Bakraoui’s brother, Khalid el-Bakraoui, blew himself up at Maelbeek metro station.
Police later found a computer in which Ibrahim el-Bakraoui left a final message.
The only person arrested and charged with involvement in the Brussels attacks – man known as Faycal C – has been released on March 28 for lack of evidence.
Belgian media named him as Faycal Cheffou and said he was suspected of being the mystery third man seen in CCTV footage of the bombers.
Last week’s attacks on Brussels airport and the city’s metro system killed 35 people and injured more than 300.
The attacks were claimed by ISIS.
Police have blocked off a Brussels square, Place de la Bourse, which saw clashes between police and nationalist protesters on March 27.
People were allowed to stay in the square, where mourners have placed candles, wreaths and messages for victims of the bomb attacks.
Of the 35 victims, seven have still to be identified, the country’s crisis centre said on March 28.
At least 12 of the victims are foreign nationals from the US, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and China, it said earlier.
The death toll does not include three attackers, two of whom blew themselves up at the airport and one in the metro.
EU institutions based in Brussels will reopen on March 29, following the Easter break, “with important additional security measures in place”, European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva said in a tweet.
The man referred to officially as Facyal C was released on March 28 after being arrested on March 24 in Brussels and charged with “participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempted terrorist murders”.
In a statement, the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office said: “The clues that led to the arrest of Faycal C were not substantiated by the ongoing inquiry.
“As a result, the subject has been released by the examining magistrate.”
He had been charged only two days before with “taking part in a terrorist group, terrorist murder and attempted terrorist murder”.
Belgian public TV and Le Soir daily identified the freed man as Faycal Cheffou, a freelance journalist.
CCTV footage released by Belgian police on March 28 shows the two airport bombers alongside a third man, who is wearing light-colored clothing and a dark hat. Each is pushing a loaded luggage trolley.
Twin blasts struck the main terminal of Zaventem Airport. A third, even bigger, bomb was abandoned, prosecutors said at the time. It exploded after the security forces had secured the scene and nobody was hurt, they added.
The man in the hat is believed to have fled the scene.
Brussels was the second large-scale attack on an EU capital city claimed by ISIS, after gunmen and bombers killed 130 people in Paris on November 13.
In a bid to identify the third attacker at Brussels airport, whose bomb did not explode and who fled, Belgian police have released a new CCTV footage.
The attacker is seen wearing light-colored clothing and a hat.
The death toll from March 22 attacks in Brussels rose to 35 after four people died of their injuries in hospital.
More than 300 people were also injured in the attacks, which were claimed by ISIS.
The death toll does not include three attackers, two of whom blew themselves up at the airport and one in the metro.
Investigators have not commented on reports in the Belgian media that the third airport attacker is Faycal Cheffou, a freelance journalist arrested on March 24 outside the prosecutor’s office.
On March 26, a man named Faycal C was charged with “participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempted terrorist murders”, a prosecutor’s statement said.
Separately, three men were charged on March 28 with belonging to a terrorist group.
The three, whose names were given as Yassine A, Mohamed B and Aboubaker O, were arrested during raids on 13 addresses on March 27. A fourth man was released without charge.
Belgian Health Minister Maggie De Block announced the latest deaths in a tweet: “Four patients deceased in hospital. Medical teams did all possible. Total victims: 35. Courage to all the families.”
Of the 35 victims, seven have still to be identified, the Belgian crisis center said on March 28.
At least 12 of the victims are foreign nationals from the US, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and China, it said earlier.
More arrests have also taken place in relation to what authorities say were planned attacks on France.
A man already in Belgian custody was reported to have been charged in connection with a foiled attack in the Paris region.
Separately, Dutch police announced on March 27 that they had detained a 32-year-old Frenchman in Rotterdam at the request of French authorities.
The man was arrested on suspicion of preparing an attack in France and will be extradited to the country. Three other people were also detained.
The Frenchman is allegedly linked to Reda Kriket, who was arrested in a Paris suburb on March 24 and said to be in the “advanced stage” of plotting an attack, AFP news agency reported, citing a police source.
Pope Francis has called on Christians not to let fear and pessimism “imprison” them as he delivered his Easter message.
Speaking amid tight security at the Vatican, Pope Francis said: “Let us not allow darkness and fear to distract us and control our hearts.”
The Pope’s message followed a condemnation on March 25 of the Brussels terror attacks.
Islamist violence is expected to be a prominent theme of his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” Easter message.
Photo Getty Images
Many pilgrims cancelled their planned trips to Rome in the wake of the violence in Brussels, but St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican was packed when Pope Francis celebrated mass on March 26.
Pope Francis entered a darkened basilica with just a single candle guiding him. As he reached the altar, the basilica’s floodlights came on to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Delivering his homily, Pope Francis said: “Today is the celebration of our hope. It is so necessary today.”
The lengthy vigil service also included a papal baptism for 12 adults hailing from China, South Korea and other countries around the world.
On Easter Day, Francis will preside over Easter Mass and offer his annual Easter blessing.
On March 25, he denounced the “terrorist acts committed by followers of some religions which profane the name of God and which use the holy name to justify their unprecedented violence”.
Meanwhile, Vatican officials distributed sleeping bags to 100 homeless people.
The police presence in the streets around the Vatican has been stepped up this year, as more pilgrims than usual are expected after Pope Francis declared a jubilee year for the Catholic Church, calling it a “Holy Year of Mercy”.
A man has been charged with terrorist offences, in connection with March 22 attacks in Brussels that left 31 dead, including three bombers, Belgian prosecutors say.
The man was named as Faycal Cheffou and was arrested on March 24.
At least half the victims died at the airport, the rest in an attack on the metro in suicide bombings claimed by ISIS.
Meanwhile a demonstration against the attacks, planned for March 27 in central Brussels, has been canceled after a request from the authorities.
Organizers said people’s security was a top priority.
Belgian prosecutors said that Faycal C had been detained outside the prosecutor’s office in Brussels on March 24. A search of his home had found no weapons.
Faycal C was charged with “participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempted terrorist murders,” a statement said.
It gave no further details and made no comment on Belgian media reports that he was the third man in an airport CCTV image that showed the two suicide bombers – Najim Laachraoui on the left, and Brahim el-Bakraoui. Belgian media say the third man is Faycal Cheffou, a freelance journalist.
The third man, wearing a hat and pale jacket, also had luggage packed with explosives. However, he was said to have fled without detonating his device. It was detonated in a controlled explosion once the departures hall was cleared.
Brahim el-Bakraoui’s brother Khalid carried out the Maelbeek metro attack.
Faycal C was among 12 people arrested on March 24 and 25 in police raids in Belgium, France and Germany.
Four days before the Brussels attacks, the key suspect in the November 13 Paris attacks which killed 130 people, Salah Abdeslam, was detained in a raid in Brussels. Police said he was initially co-operative.
Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens later confirmed in parliament that Salah Abdeslam “no longer wants to talk since attacks” in Brussels.
Separately, Brussels airport authorities said the “investigative work related to the judicial inquiry into the airport terminal has been completed” but that passenger activity could not resume before March 22.
Airport engineers and technicians are getting access to the terminal for the first time since the attack.
They will assess the damage and stability of the building. The airport authorities will also put new security measures in place.
The check-in area suffered severe damage when two blasts seconds apart hit opposite ends of the departures hall.
In addition to the dead, 340 people were injured. One hundred and one remain in hospital, of whom 62 are in intensive care.
In his weekly address on March 26, President Barack Obama paid his respects to the victims and said attempts to stigmatize Muslim-Americans should be rejected.
Meanwhile, Mariah Carey has canceled a concert scheduled for Brussels on March 27, citing security concerns.
In a separate development, Belgian prosecutors denied the murder of a security official at the Fleurus nuclear research centre was a terrorist act, the Belga news agency reported.
Brussels international airport will be closed until March 29, Belgian authorities say, following attacks in the capital that left 31 dead.
Zaventem airport was the first target on March 22, with two suicide bombers triggering explosions in the departures hall.
An hour later, 20 people died in the suicide bombing of a metro station.
On March 26, Belgian prosecutors announced that one arrested man had now been charged with terrorist offences.
ISIS has said it carried out both the Brussels attacks, and the ones in Paris, in which 130 people died in November 2015.
Brussels airport authorities said the “investigative work related to the judicial inquiry into the airport terminal has been completed” but that passenger activity could not resume before March 29.
A team of airport engineers and technicians is being given access to the terminal building for the first time since the attack.
They will assess the damage and stability of the building. The airport authorities will also install new security measures.
Zaventem airport check-in area suffered severe damage when two blasts seconds apart hit opposite ends of the departures hall.
Some people fleeing the first blast were caught by the second.
The two suicide bombers there have been identified by DNA as Najim Laachraoui and Brahim el-Bakraoui. They were pictured in an airport CCTV image before the explosions with a third man, on the right of the picture, who has yet to be identified or apprehended.
Brahim el-Bakraoui’s brother, Khalid, carried out the attack on the Maelbeek metro attack.
In Brussels, buses are running and most metro stations have reopened but there are still soldiers patrolling the streets and although people are defiant, they are aware that there are possibly still other suspects at large.
On March 26, Belgian police continued operations to search for members of the terror cell, in particular the missing man from the airport image and a man suspected of aiding the metro attack.
Twelve people were arrested on March 24 and 25 in police raids in Belgium, France and Germany.
Six people have been arrested in Brussels as a major investigation continues into attacks that claimed 31 lives in the Belgian capital on March 22.
All suspects have been arrested in the Schaerbeek district. There is no word yet on the identities of the suspects or their possible connection to the attacks.
Separately, in France, a suspect who was plotting an attack has been arrested near Paris, officials said.
The Brussels bombings have been linked to last November’s Paris attacks.
ISIS has claimed the attacks in both Paris and Brussels.
The arrests in Schaerbeek were made on March 24, and followed house-to-house searches in the area.
Residents said they heard explosions during the police raids but the cause was unclear.
Also on March 24, French police launched an anti-terror operation in Argenteuil, north-west of Paris, following the arrest hours earlier of a man suspected of planning an attack.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the suspected militant, a French national, was in an “advanced stage” of a plot, adding that no connection had been made to either the Brussels or the Paris attacks.
Police sources quoted in French media say the suspect had been convicted in his absence in another European country for seeking ISIS recruits to go to Syria.
In November 2015, 130 people died after militants opened fire and detonated bombs in a number of locations in Paris.
Also on March 24, Belgium admitted that it had made “errors” relating to one of the Brussels attackers.
Turkey has said it arrested and deported Brahim el-Bakraoui last June, warning Belgium he was a “foreign fighter” – but was “ignored”. The Dutch authorities had also been alerted, Ankara said.
The Belgian interior and justice ministers said they had offered to resign over this but added that the prime minister refused to let them.
Brahim el-Bakraoui is one of three men who carried out the bombings at Zaventem airport that killed 11 people.
Unconfirmed reports say another of the Brussels airport attackers was the wanted jihadist Najim Laachraoui, whose DNA was found on explosives linked to the attacks in Paris.
The third suspected airport attacker has not yet been identified and is on the run.
Brahim el-Bakraoui’s brother, Khalid, struck at Maelbeek metro station, where 20 people died.
There are reports of a second suspect being sought for that attack. One source told AFP news agency that a man with a large bag had been seen beside Khalid el-Bakraoui on surveillance footage at the metro station.
Meanwhile, VRT reported that investigators were working on the assumption that the cell had been planning a far bigger attack, involving Paris-style shootings as well as suicide bombings.
Links have also emerged with Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the Paris attacks.
Salah Abdeslam was arrested and wounded in a police raid on a flat in the Forest area of Brussels on March 18 – four days before the attacks in the Belgian capital.
Investigators say Khalid el-Bakraoui used a false name to rent the same flat.
On March 24, Salah Abdeslam’s lawyer said he had changed his mind and would not fight extradition from Belgium to France.
Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French national born in Belgium, did not have prior knowledge of the Brussels bombings and had stopped co-operating with police following the attacks, his lawyer Sven Mary said.
A court hearing on March 24 on the detention of Salah Abdeslam and two other suspects has been postponed until April 7.
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