Sunday, April 10, 2016 9:53 am
Belgian prosecutors said late Saturday that they had cracked the identity of the mystery Man in the Hat puzzle, who was caught in the Brussels airport security cameras after attacks in the city killed 32 people on March 22.
The mystery man is the same 31-year-old Mohamed Abrini, who was arrested in Brussels on Friday.
He has admitted to being “the man in the hat,” prosecutors said.
“He was confronted with the results of various expert assessments and admitted his presence,” said the federal prosecutor in a statement.
“The person told investigators that he had thrown his jacket in a trash can and then sold his hat.”
Abrini has been charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group and terrorist murder, said the statement.
Mohamed Abrini, a Belgian of Moroccan origin, had become one of the most wanted suspects in Europe since December, after he was filmed at a gas station in Paris two days before the Nov. 13 bombings along with Salah Abdeslam, a major suspect of the Paris attacks arrested on March 18.
During a police raid after the Brussels attacks, Abrini’s DNA was found in an apartment in the Brussels’ district of Schaerbeek, from which suicide bombers left to carry out the March 22 twin attacks.
Abrini was arrested Friday along with five others in Brussels, among whom, Osama Krayem, a Swedish national, received the same charges as Abdeslam’s over his role in the attacks at the Maelbeek Metro Station.
Krayem was also present in the City 2 shop center of Brussels when buying bags that were used in the attacks, reported the Belgian broadcaster RTBF.
Another two suspects, Herve B. M. and Bilal E. M., were charged with participation in a terrorist group and terrorist murders complicity, while the other two arrested were released after thorough hearing.
The arrests marked an important step in the investigation of the radical cell that committed the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels.
However, the National Security Council convened a meet Friday evening and decided to keep the national terrorist alert level at three, which indicates “possible and probable” threat, on a scale of four.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Saturday that his government would continue to be vigilant about the militant threat.
“We are positive about the recent developments in the investigation. But we know we have to stay alert and cautious,” Michel told a news conference in Brussels.