Q&A: The latest on the Brussels and Paris attacks

Police investigate an area where terror suspect Mohamed Abrini was arrested in Brussels. Photo / AP
Police investigate an area where terror suspect Mohamed Abrini was arrested in Brussels. Photo / AP

What is the new information?

The Belgian federal prosecutor's office says Brussels bombers had planned to attack Paris again but instead attacked the Belgian capital because they knew police were closing in after their ringleader, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested. The jihadist cell was "surprised by the speed of the progress in the ongoing investigation" and decided to attack the airport and metro station.

Is there any French evidence?

Though he gave no information on the target of the planned new strike on France, earlier last month French police arrested a man named Reda Kriket in a Paris suburb and found weapons and explosives in a flat he had used. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said that "while no specific target has been identified, nonetheless everything leads us to believe that the discovery of this cache [of weapons] has allowed us to prevent an action of extreme violence by a terrorist network".

Has any progress been made?

The investigation into the Brussels attackers, who were directly involved in the November attacks on Paris which killed 130 people, saw a major breakthrough with the arrest at the weekend of prime suspect Mohamed Abrini. He has been charged with "terrorist murders" in connection with both the Brussels and Paris attacks and on Sunday admitted to investigators that he was the elusive "man in the hat" seen at Brussels airport with two brothers who minutes later blew themselves up.

What evidence ties him to Paris?

Abrini, a 31-year-old Belgian of Moroccan origin, left fingerprints and DNA in a Renault Clio used in the attacks in Paris as well as inside an apartment in Brussels used by the airport bombers.

Does this have impact elsewhere?

A security expert said officers from Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command would be liaising closely with Belgian counterparts to learn all they can about Abrini's movements after it emerged he visited Britain last year.

What are political leaders saying?

Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, said today's revelations proved there was a major, ongoing threat to his country. "It's extra proof of the very high threats to the whole of Europe and to France in particular," he said. Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said: "Once the intention is there, the place of execution is rather secondary. If we secure one place, another target opens up."

Is there any hope the Belgian-Frence cell is accounted for?

Geens believes not. "We can hope that the cell around Abdeslam and [Paris attack mastermind Abdelhamid] Abbaoud is just about caught but we should not believe it," he said. "It is a dirty war which is unpleasant for France, for Belgium, or for the other nations in Western Europe, because no one is immune," Geens added.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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