Brussels Terror Attacks Are Revenge for Capture of Top Paris Terrorist: Intelligence Official

March 22, 2016 Updated: March 22, 2016
FONT BFONT SText size

An Iraqi intelligence official says sources in the Syrian city of Raqqa have told them that the Islamic State group has been planning terrorist attacks in Europe for two months which would “target airports and train stations.”

The official said on Tuesday that Iraqi officials told European countries about the plans “but Brussels was not part of the plans” at the time.

He says IS militants changed the operation and moved it to Brussels “because of the detention of Salah Abdeslam”–the Paris attacks suspect arrested Friday in Brussels.

Another senior Iraqi intelligence official said “Daesh (ISIS) was behind this operation and it was planned in Raqqa two months ago and there are three suicide attackers who will carry out another attack.”

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity since the investigation was ongoing.

This undated file photo provided by French Police shows 26-year old Salah Abdeslam, who is wanted by police in connection with recent terror attacks in Paris. (Police Nationale via AP)
This undated file photo provided by French Police shows 26-year old Salah Abdeslam, who is wanted by police in connection with recent terror attacks in Paris. (Police Nationale via AP)

 

Meanwhile, a U.S. official said at least one suitcase bomb was detonated at the Brussels airport on Tuesday morning. 

The official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the early investigations, confirmed a statement by a Brussels official that there is also concrete evidence of one suicide bombing at the airport Tuesday as well.

The official said it was unclear if Tuesday’s bombings were already planned and set in motion by his or another existing network, or if they were a direct response to Abdeslam’s arrest.

The official said the explosives seen in Brussels on Tuesday appear sophisticated. Investigators will examine them to see if they bear the same characteristics as those used in Paris last year.

At least 31 people were declared dead in the Brussels attacks.