Terror and havoc flood the streets of Brussels after the recently launched terrorist attacks. In revealed surveillance images, a man wearing a hat can be seen pushing a baggage cart through an airport. This evidence is as important as ever as authorities search for suspects after the two explosions in a Brussels airport followed by another at a busy metro station, killing at least 30 people and wounding 230 others. Although ISIS has claimed full responsibility for the blasts, authorities have not confirmed whether the terror group was truly behind the coordinated attacks. Police have released the photographs of three men who are being considered as suspects tied to the airport explosions. Two of them, wearing black in the surveillance images, are believed to be the suicide bombers who died in the airport’s departure lounge. Yet one, who is depicted in light-colored clothes, appears to have left after planting the bomb. Authorities and police have called for public aid in tracking him down.
Later on, another break in the investigation took place when the taxi driver, who took the suspects to the airport, disclosed the address of where he picked the men up. These details prompted the authorities to raid the residence, and they were able to find a nail bomb, chemical products, and an ISIS flag in the Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek. The investigators scoured the building for hours as security was heightened with a helicopter hovering overhead, carrying a sniper with a weapon trained on the building. Masked, armed officers also stood guard outside the residence, with cameras situated on the streets. The investigators left the building carrying bags of evidence to which they transferred into vehicles.
Questions remain as to whether the explosions have connections with last year’s Paris attacks. The blasts sent many wounded people fleeing into the streets, spurring evacuations of transit hubs and raids in some areas as authorities combed areas for suspects and evidence. As ISIS claims responsibility for both attacks, it is quite plausible to assume that the attacks are tied.
As the wounded are treated and authorities search for information, another key question remains unanswered: Could the attacks be connected to Abdeslam’s arrest? Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel deflected the question about whether there was a link between the explosions and the Belgium-born French citizen’s capture by stating that it was simply to0 early to tell. Michel said he had no information about who was responsible for the blasts, and that their focus is on caring for the victims.
As airline security has been strengthened over the last decade, fears about airport security are being realized. One of the two airport explosions happened outside security checkpoints for ticketed passengers and near the airline check-in counters. And airport security is not only being questioned as the subway station blast transpired in the Brussels district of Maelbeek, near the European Quarter, where European Union institutions are located.
Belgium is not a stranger to terror. “The Belgians have been sitting on a ticking time bomb,” a U.S. counterterrorism official said, given those who have traveled from Belgium to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS, then possibly come back home.
But for survivors of the explosions, the repeated warnings didn’t dull the panic at seeing the carnage.
“You cannot believe it; you cannot believe it,” said Jef Versele, who was in the airport’s departure lounge when the attacks occurred. “It was so insane. Not in my backyard.”
The second bomb in the airport blew out some of the windows, created a lot of smoke and caused parts of the ceiling to crumble.
“People were on the floor,” Versele said, estimating he saw 50 to 60 who fell to the ground, unable to walk.
After the attacks in Brussels, the home of NATO and the capital of the European Union, leaders inside Belgium have vowed to fight against terror. In Belgium, Prime Minister Michel offered a strong message to those who supported the attackers.
“To those who have chosen to be barbarous enemies of freedom, democracy, and fundamental values … we remain united as one,” Michel said. “We are determined to defend our freedoms and to protect our liberties.”
Yet, although the message is resolute, a Twitter post by prominent ISIS backers Tuesday featured these harsh words, “What will be coming is worse.”