Already in December, Belgian police found evidence that the ISIS suicide bombers were planning a nuclear attack, raising questions about the government’s performance.
Brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, two Islamic terrorists who attacked Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek subway station in Brussels on Tuesday, killing 34 people and wounding scores more, had originally planned to make their way inside a nuclear power plant, reports indicate.
Once inside, they may have detonated a reactor or collected dirty bomb materials, Belgium’s La Derniere Heure said.
The terrorists had been filming the daily routine of the head of Belgium’s nuclear research and development program and apparently were planning to kidnap him in order to gain access inside the facility, La Derniere Heure reported. In December, police discovered a 10-hour video from a camera hidden behind bushes outside the home of the nuclear chief, whose name was not revealed for security reasons.
Increased security at the site and police raids that led to the capture of Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist Salah Abdeslam, who was responsible for multiple terror attacks carried out simultaneously in Paris in November, may have prompted the el-Badraoui brothers to reconsider their target.
Police discovered a suicide note written by Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, 29, who died bombing the airport, in which he wrote to his mother, “I am always on the move, I don’t know what to do, I’m being hunted everywhere and am no longer safe. If I go on like this [I] will end up in a prison cell next to him.” It was not clear to whom he was referring by “him.” Khalid, 27, was the suicide bomber responsible for the carnage at Maelbeek.
Police are searching for more suspects, most notably Najim Laachrao, who they believe was the bomb-maker.
“If you put all things in a row, you can ask yourself major questions” about the government’s performance, said Interior Minister Jan Jambon, who along with Justice Minister Koen Geens, had tendered his resignation, AP reported. Notable among the questions were those raised by Turkey’s announcement it had warned Belgium last year that one of the Brussels attackers, Ibrahim El Bakraoui, had been flagged as a “foreign terrorist fighter.”
Prime Minister Charles Michel asked Jambon and Geens to stay on, given the current challenges.
“We have to be very self-critical,” Geens conceded.