Brussels bombers were 'scouting terrain' of Belgian Prime Minister's home and office

NewsBy Sunday World
Belgian PM Charles Michel
Belgian PM Charles Michel

A laptop used by one of the Brussels bombers contained images of the Belgian Prime Minister's home and office.

A government official said that "it is alarming that they were apparently scouting the terrain" around the lush Royal Park where both Charles Michel's office, Le 16, and his Lambermont residence are located.

Security around Mr Michel has increased since the November 13 attacks in Paris and in Brussels last week. Mr Michel also has had several unspecified death threats over the past years, the official said.

A laptop found near the hideout of the suspects of the March 22 airport bombing first gained notoriety because it contained a sort of will of suicide bomber Ibrahim El Bakraoui, in which he spoke of being "in a haste" and "no longer knowing what to do".

The computer was also "full of stuff" on many locations around Brussels in information garnered from the Internet, said an official linked to the investigation.

The official, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is ongoing, said that at the moment there were "absolutely no" specific indications that Mr Michel was under threat from the attackers.

The report was first published by De Tijd and L'Echo newspapers.

In propaganda material distributed on Tuesday, the Islamic State group described the Brussels attacks as part of "a war against all their tyrants and pagans; a war against secularism". The material showed a cropped still of surveillance footage showing the two airport bombers. The attacker who escaped with his life, wearing a dark hat, was cropped out.

"Its most important results are that it showed the fragility of the security systems of the European states that claim they are the strongest in the world, and this was through the type of operation, its timing, its place, and the circumstances surrounding it, and the nature of those who executed it," the material said, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

In all, 32 people died in the attacks on Brussels international airport and the Maelbeek subway station and 87 remained in hospital. Three attackers were killed when their bombs exploded and police are looking for at least one more suspect.