Belgian police on Friday arrested six people in connection with terrorist attacks on Brussels and Paris.
Mohamed Abrini, wanted since November in connection with the Paris Attacks, was arrested on Friday afternoon at Place Albert in the Anderlecht district of Brussels. Two others were detained at the same time.
“At the moment, the investigators are verifying whether Abrini can be positively identified as being the third person present during the attacks in Brussels National Airport,” federal prosecutor spokesperson Eric Van Der Sypt said on Friday.
Two other people were detained elsewhere in Brussels on Friday morning. These people have been named as Osama Krayem and Hervé BM.
A sixth arrest is Bilal El Makhoukhi from Brussels. El Makkoukhi was convicted and sentenced for terror-related offences at a trial in Antwerp last year. He was serving his sentence at home with an electronic surveillance tag.
Unidentified person arrested in Brussels
The man in white?
There has been much media speculation that Abrini was the third man at Brussels airport along with the two suicide bombers, Najim Laachraoui, and Ibrahim El Bakraoui.
This man’s bomb did not detonate and he fled the scene. On Thursday, Belgian police issued fresh video of this man’s escape from the airport and his return to central Brussels on foot.
On March 26, media speculation over the man in white moved to Fayçal C, who was charged with membership of a terrorist group, terrorist murder, and attempted terrorist murder. Fayçal C was released from custody two days later.
Abrini’s links to the Paris Attacks
Abrini was filmed at a service station in France on November 11, two days before the attacks in Paris, according to Belgian police. It is believed Abrini was driving a Renault Clio that was used during the attacks. Images thought to be of Abrini and Salah Abdeslam together inside a shop at the service station have circulated in the media.
Abrini is believed to have driven with Salah and Brahim Abdeslam from Belgium to Paris and back on November 10 and 11. Brahim Abdeslam blew himself up at the Comptoir Voltaire restaurant during the attacks.
Abrini and Salah Abdeslam rented an aparthotel in the Alfortville suburb of Paris that was used as a base by some of the cell before the attacks, the Guardian reports.
Salah Abdeslam is thought to be the last remaining survivor of the team of Paris bombers – he intended to blow himself up but backed out at the last minute. He was arrested in Brussels two weeks ago and is now awaiting extradition to France.
Abrini, who has Belgian and Moroccan nationality, grew up in Brussels and was a childhood friend of Salah Abdeslam. His younger brother died in Syria in 2014. Abrini himself is believed to have travelled to Syria last summer.
One suspect, Swedish national Osama Krayem, alias Naim Al Ahmed, will be investigated over the metro bomb attack. Investigations are underway to determine whether he was the man believed to have accompanied Khalid El Bakraoui, who blew himself up on a metro train at Maelbeek station.
Federal prosecutor spokesperson Thierry Werts said he had been filmed in the Cite 2 complex buying sports bags used to carry the airport bombs.
Werts said Osama Krayem was driven from Ulm in Germany to Belgium on October 3 in a rental car hired by Salah Abdeslam.
Another man, Hervé BM, was arrested with Osama Krayem.