Report: Brussels terrorists also planned kidnappings

Media reports say the jihadists behind the Paris and Brussels terror attacks planned to kidnap well-known figures.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Aftermath of Brussels attack
Aftermath of Brussels attack

The jihadists behind the Paris and Brussels terror attacks had planned to kidnap well-known figures in a bid to trade them for their brethren jailed in Belgium, media outlets reported Wednesday.

Investigators came to this conclusion after discovering a recorded conversation in a laptop found in a dustbin in the Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek, from where the perpetrators of the March 22 attack on the Belgian capital's airport had left, public broadcasters RTBF and VRT reported.

The conversation was between an Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadist in Syria and Ibrahim El Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui, who blew themselves up at the airport, and Khalid El Bakraoui, a suicide bomber who attacked the Maelbeek metro station.

The investigators have identified the jihadist in Syria as Osama Atar, a Belgian-Moroccan veteran extremist in his 30s who served time in American prisons in Iraq, RTBF said.

The three men, who had been hiding in Brussels, planned several terrorist acts including kidnapping "one or two" personalities to demand the "liberation of brothers and sisters" jailed in Belgium, including Mehdi Nemmouche, who killed four people during a May 2014 attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

"It will be a great victory" for ISIS, Lachraoui was quoted as saying.

Belgian prosecutors refused to comment on the reports when contacted by AFP.

The men finally did not carry out the kidnapping plan but killed 32 people and injured hundreds more in their attacks on the airport and the metro station.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the Brussels suicide bombers targeted passengers travelling to the United States and also Jewish people.

The Belgian-led investigation believes a check-in counter for an American carrier was one of the targets in the March 22, 2016 attacks. They also suspect that travellers to Israel may have been in the crosshairs, and that airport security camera footage shows one bomber apparently pursuing Hasidic Jews seconds before one of the blasts.

Previous reports indicated that the terrorists planned to bomb a Belgian nuclear plant and cause a nuclear explosion.

AFP contributed to this report.