Wednesday 28 September 2016

Who is the world's most wanted man? 10 things we know about former the Catholic schoolboy and Brussels terror suspect Najim Laachraoui

Published 23/03/2016 | 08:04

Najim Laachraoui: One of Europe’s most-wanted men. Getty
Najim Laachraoui: One of Europe’s most-wanted men. Getty

A manhunt is underway in Brussels for bomb suspect Najim Laachraoui.

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Last night he was pictured on CCTV footage in Brussels Zaventem airport alongside two suicide bombers who are believed to have detonated themselves in a suicide attack in the airport's departure lounge.

Here is what we know about Laachraoui:

1. A Belgian national, Najim Laachraoui is 24 years of age.

Undated handout CCTV stills issued by the Belgian Federal Police of one of three men thought to be connected with the Brussels attacks, who is believed to be on the run. Federal Police/PA Wire
Undated handout CCTV stills issued by the Belgian Federal Police of one of three men thought to be connected with the Brussels attacks, who is believed to be on the run. Federal Police/PA Wire

2. Laachraoui is a suspected Isis commander who is understood to have made the suicide bombs in last November's Paris terror attacks.

3. He has been listed as one of Europe's most wanted men who gave police the slip last year when he returned from Syria.

Undated handout CCTV stills issued by the Belgian Federal Police of one of three men believed to be connected with the Brussels attacks. Federal Police/PA Wire
Undated handout CCTV stills issued by the Belgian Federal Police of one of three men believed to be connected with the Brussels attacks. Federal Police/PA Wire

4. A former Catholic schoolboy and electromechanics student, Laachraoui grew up in Schaerbeek in Brussels city centre and had set up at least one bomb-making factory there in the weeks before Paris.

5. Laachraoui figures on a list of Belgium's anti-terror service, Ocam, which contains around 100 names of residents of Schaerbeek, including several who have died in Syria and others who have returned.

Undated handout CCTV stills issued by the Belgian Federal Police of one of three men believed to be connected with the Brussels attacks. Federal Police/PA Wire
Undated handout CCTV stills issued by the Belgian Federal Police of one of three men believed to be connected with the Brussels attacks. Federal Police/PA Wire

6. A brush with the law: Laachraoui was stopped by police in September last year, weeks before the Paris attacks, as he made his way across Europe from Syria. He was in a car with Abdeslam on their way from Budapest to Brussels when they were stopped. But police waved them on after they convinced officers they were tourists on a trip to Vienna.

7. Laachraoui was only publicly identified as a Paris suspect on Monday and Brussels was targeted less than 24 hours later.

The two men on the left are believed to have blown themselves up while the man on the right is being sought by police. Belgian Federal Police/PA Wire
The two men on the left are believed to have blown themselves up while the man on the right is being sought by police. Belgian Federal Police/PA Wire

8. He was already suspected of recruiting others to fight in Syria and was linked to Abdelhamid Abaaoud - the Belgian mastermind behind Paris.

9. He was recently tried in absentia for involvement in a network of Belgians who left for Syria, in which the prosecutor called for him to be handed a 15-year prison sentence for persuading several of his friends to join the ranks of Isil. The verdict will be pronounced in May.

Blown out windows are seen at Zaventem Airport in Brussels after coordinated bomb attacks on the airport and the Metro system brought terror to the Belgian capital.. Photo credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Blown out windows are seen at Zaventem Airport in Brussels after coordinated bomb attacks on the airport and the Metro system brought terror to the Belgian capital.. Photo credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

10. Laachraoui was picked up in Budapest in September last year by now-arrested Abdeslam and taken to Brussels. He was given the fake identity of Soutane Kayal which he then used to move across Europe. Under his fake identity, Laachraoui rented a house in Auvelais, near the central Belgian city of Namur, used by some of the Paris killers, and at another suspected hideout in the rue Henri Berge in Schaerbeek.

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