Friday 20 September 2019

Paris attacks mastermind on list given to Brussels mayor

Children walk past graffiti on their way to school, in central Brussels. Photo: Reuters
Children walk past graffiti on their way to school, in central Brussels. Photo: Reuters

Alicia Cordell in Brussels

The Mayor of the Brussels district of Molenbeek received a list with the names of more than 80 suspected jihadists living in the area just one month before the Paris attacks.

The 'New York Times' said mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and the two brothers who took part - Brahim and Salah Abdeslam - were on the list. Their apartment was just 100 metres from the mayor's office and could be viewed from her window.

Brussels was yesterday coming back to life after four days of lockdown following the intelligence that there would be an "imminent" attack on the city. The metro was slowly reopening, as were schools and nurseries. Armed guards remain in place throughout the city, and it continues to be on Level 4 terror alert, meaning an attack is imminent.

As schools reopened, dozens of parents hugged and kissed their children before dropping them off at the College Saint-Jean-Bermans. Many were reassured by the police presence - including at least one officer with a visible machine gun - as the threat alert in the city remains at its highest.

Annelaure Leger, a mother of two children, said: "I'm not very concerned because if (the government) lets children go to school again, then things must be okay." She said the closure of schools was like an early Christmas for her children and since her family lives partly in Paris, the children are very aware of what's happening and she told them "the police are trying to catch a terrorist so everyone will be safe".

Students in Brussels began returning to class after the shutdown sparked by fears that a series of simultaneous attacks could be launched around the Belgian capital.

Special measures are being taken at primary and secondary schools as well as universities, with student movements limited around or outside school buildings during the day.

Underground transport in Brussels was also slowly starting up again after a four-day closure. Sections of the main metro are in operation, but services are not running to outlying suburbs.

Belgian authorities set the city on maximum alert overnight last Friday, amid warnings of an imminent security threat.

More than 1,000 security personnel and soldiers have been deployed.

Irish Independent

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