Before the smoke cleared after Tuesday’s deadly terrorist attack in Brussels, Belgian authorities were on the hunt for whoever might be responsible for killing 34 people and injuring 200 more in a series of coordinated suicide bombings. Several arrests were made and raids were conducted the same day, causing state officials and reporters alike to scramble for answers while more details haphazardly came to the fore. Investigators released a photo of three men taken from an airport security camera suspected of involvement in the hopes that the public would be able to help identify them. According to several outlets, at least two of the men pictured have been identified.
The Associated Press reported that, according to Belgian state broadcaster RTBF, two of the attackers were brothers named Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui. The report also claimed that Khalid’s apartment was raided by police a week prior as part of the sting that led to the capture of the last remaining Paris suspect, Salah Abdeslam. However, no sources or confirmation were provided until Wednesday morning, when Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw identified Khalid, 27, and Ibrahim, 29, as two of the suicide bombers responsible for Tuesday’s attacks. The first triggered the deadly blast at the Maelbeek subway station, while the second was one of three men captured on camera at the airport.
They were first tipped off to the brothers’ involvement when the cab driver who took them to the airport recognized them in the distributed photo. Per the Guardian, that information led investigators to Khalid and Ibrahim, as well as to the Schaerbeek neighborhood where the older brother left a computer with a will on it in a trash can. Van Leeuw revealed that, aside from the will, Ibrahim included a note in which he said “he felt increasingly unsafe and feared landing in prison.”
However, information about the remaining two suspects is vague. As Van Leeuw indicated in his most recent press conference, Ibrahim El Bakraoui (pictured above in the middle) is the only attacker from the airport that Belgian investigators have been able to identify. The second airport suicide bomber (pictured above on the left) has not yet been identified, either from evidence at the scene or from the authorities’ subsequent raids and interrogations.
The third airport suspect (pictured above on the right) has proven even more difficult for both the police and the press, as he reportedly left his explosive device at the location and fled the scene. He is still on the run, and figuring out who he is has become rather cumbersome thanks to the Belgian newspaper DH. Per the Associated Press, DH floated the possibility that this lone survivor might be Najim Laachraoui, a suspected accomplice of Paris attacked Abdeslam whom the Belgians have been searching for since last week. Laachraoui was also thought to have prepared suicide vests and other supplies for the Paris attackers, as his DNA was found on items in a Brussels apartment as a part of that investigation.
Belgian media caught on to Laachraoui’s possible involvement in Tuesday’s attacks and plastered his name everywhere. One report even suggested that he’d been arrested early Wednesday morning. However, as Van Leeuw pointed out in a recent statement, the fourth suspect still on the loose has not yet been identified by the authorities currently pursuing him.