Suspect in Paris, Brussels attacks arrested in Belgium: reports

Suspect in Paris, Brussels attacks arrested in Belgium: reports
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A suspect in November’s deadly terror attacks in Paris was arrested in Belgium on Friday, according to reports.

Mohamed Abrini, who is also believed to be the “man in the hat” seen in footage of the March 22 attacks in Brussels, was reportedly one of several people taken into custody on Friday whom the Belgian prosecutor’s office had yet to publicly identify.   

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Authorities said Abrini, 31, was seen driving toward Paris along with suspected terrorist Salah Abdeslam in the days before the November attacks in the French capital that killed 130 people. The two were reportedly seen in a car that was later used as part of the attacks. Abdeslam was arrested last month, days before the attacks in Brussels. 

Belgian public broadcaster RTBF reported that Abrini is also likely to be identified as the “man in the hat” captured on video leaving the Belgian airport moments before bombs went off there last month. Along with a bombing at a downtown Brussels subway station, the March attackers killed 32 people. 

According to Reuters, which cited Belgian broadcaster VRT, Abrini was arrested in the Anderlecht section of Brussels, which is adjacent to the Molenbeek neighborhood that officials have described as a hub for jihadists.  

If confirmed, the arrest would be an important victory for Belgian authorities who have faced criticism about their ability to respond to the growing ranks of extremists in the small European nation. 

Watchers in the U.S. and Europe have said that Belgium’s internal security force is being overwhelmed by extremists returning from Syria or who have pledged support for groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

In addition to Abrini, reports said that a second man arrested on Friday is believed to have been seen with Khalid Bakraoui, one of the Brussels attackers, in the minutes before he blew himself up on a downtown train. The second arrested man was reportedly identified as Osama Kraiem.