Brussels airport suicide bomber who killed 32 people in Islamic State attack ‘previously worked as cleaner at European Parliament’
- One of Islamic State bombers who hit Brussels previously worked for EU
- Reports Najim Laachraoui, 25, worked as a cleaner at European Parliament
- He was of the airport suicide bombers who killed 14 people last month
- Last week police at Brussels airport claimed 50 Islamic State supporters are working there as baggage handlers, cleaners and catering staff
One of the Islamic State suicide bombers who killed 32 people in Brussels last month previously worked as a cleaner at the European Parliament.
Although it was not officially confirmed which of the men involved in the attacks worked there, it has been reported that it was Belgian Najim Laachraoui, 25, one of the airport suitcase bombers.
On March 22 Brussels was hit by suicide bombings at the airport and on the Metro which ended up killing 32 victims and wounding 270. The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group.
Last night an official from the European Union institution said that for a month in both 2009 and 2010, one of the suicide bombers worked as a cleaner in the parliament as a student summer job.
The man had been employed through a cleaning company contracted by the European Parliament at the time, a spokesman said.
But he insisted that the man did not have a criminal record at the time as the firm had submitted proof of this to the parliament as required under the terms of their contract.
Last month Brussels was hit by suicide bombings at the airport and on the Metro which killed 32 victims and wounded 270. The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group.
Briton David Dixon, 50, who was originally from Hartlepool but was living in the Belgian capital, died in the Metro bombing and the Foreign Office said that seven British nationals were injured in the attacks.
European Parliament spokesman Jaume Duch Guillot said: ‘The European Parliament confirms that seven and six years ago, one of the perpetrators of the Brussels terrorist attacks worked for a period of one month for a cleaning company which was contracted by the European Parliament at the time.
‘As a student, he held a summer holiday job cleaning at the Parliament for one month in 2009 and one month in 2010. Those were the only instances he worked at the Parliament.
‘As required by the contract, the cleaning firm submitted proof of the absence of a criminal record to the European Parliament.’
Last week police based at Brussels airport claimed at least 50 ISIS supporters are working there as baggage handlers, cleaners and catering staff.
In an astonishing open letter, the officers said they have warned about the terrorist sympathisers whose security badges give them access to planes, but they remain employed.
The airport police, who are threatening to go on strike because of security deficiencies, also said they have raised the issue of terrorists scouting the airport to plan possible attacks.
‘Some people suspected of having fought in Syria came to the airport as “false tourists”. We reported their presence but we do not know if anything was done with that information,’ the airport police wrote in their letter.
The officers said they had raised suspicions about certain staff members including those who apparently celebrated after the Paris attacks in November that killed 130 people.
‘When we checked these people, we were surprised more than once. It was men with a radical ideology and a long police history,’ the officers continued.
‘Even today, there are at least 50 supporters of the Islamic state who work at the airport. They have a security badge and have access to the cockpit of a plane.
‘In the past, a number of people had their badges revoked because they had IS sympathies. But clearly not everyone, especially in store personnel, cleaning services and baggage where we find the most suspicious people.’
Police raised concerns about inadequate security at the airport just four days before the attack took place.
The Belgian police union, NSPV, told the interior ministry on Friday 18 March that they would go on strike unless it was improved.
Alain Peeters, the general secretary, said: ‘The sad events of 22 March demonstrate that our concerns are justified. We demand more security and more staff.’
Officers have said that they will not return to work when the airport re-opens unless staffing numbers are increased and that no vehicles can approach within 100 metres of the temporary check-in hall that is being built.
The police have complained that they are not sufficiently resourced and do not have enough new uniforms to go around let alone the most up-to-date weapons.
An uncle of bomber Ibrahim el-Bakraoui last week told how the terrorist and his brother Khalid had been employed at the airport and would have gained intimate knowledge of the terminal destroyed in the carnage.
The man, who asked not to be named, told the Mail: ‘They worked cleaning at the airport and in a restaurant. They didn’t finish high school in the end. They cleaned the airport in the summer months.’
Ibrahim, 29, and bomb-maker Najim Laachraoui detonated suitcase bombs in the airport. A third man, only known as ‘the man in the hat’ or ‘the man in white’ was also seen on airport CCTV but ran when his bomb failed to explode.
Khalid, 27, blew up a nail bomb on a Metro train at Maelbeek station shortly after the airport attack.