Belgian intelligence services have arrested and subsequently released a man believed to be directly involved in the Brussels bombings. Police initially charged Muslim “migrant rights activist” Faycal Cheffou with several counts of “terrorist murder” and involvement in a terror network, but released him due to lack of evidence.
Here’s video surveillance of the “man in the hat,” courtesy of NBC News. Police apparently suspected that the man seen rolling a luggage of explosives in the Brussels airport prior to the explosions was none other than Cheffou.
Without detailed explanation, Belgian’s federal prosecutor announced that the suspect, labeled by security forces as “Faycal C.,” was released due to a lack of evidence.
Cheffou was arrested on Thursday and released on Sunday, at the same time as mourners gathered in Brussels for a prayer vigil honoring the victims lost in the terrorist attack.
One of two scenarios is possible. Either Cheffou didn’t do it and Belgian intelligence services are utterly incompetent, arresting and releasing Muslim men linked with jihadist networks. Or Belgium just released the man responsible for blowing up an airport, in which case…holy sh*t.
While this was the first arrest of a suspect believed to be directly involved in the bombing, others have been detained last week in relation to the ISIS cell that planned the attack. “Early Monday, Belgium’s federal prosecutor announced that three people had been charged with participation in a terror group. It did not say whether the suspects — identified only as Yassine A., Mohamed B. and Aboubaker O. — had ties to any particular plot,” reports NBC News. “That followed charges against two other people over the weekend, which prosecutors similarly did not explicitly link to any plot or the Brussels bombings.”
So far, the intelligence gathering capabilities of Belgian’s security forces hasn’t inspired much confidence. After capturing Salah Abdeslam, one of the terrorists involved in the Paris massacre, just days before the Brussels bombings, interrogators failed to even ask the jihadist about future ISIS plans. Shockingly, they only questioned him for one hour before the Brussels attack.
Politico Europe reports:
Despite the discovery of detonators, weapons, and Abdeslam’s fingerprints in a safe house days earlier and growing evidence that the Brussels terror network was stronger than previously understood, law enforcement officials only briefly questioned Abdeslam because he was still recovering from surgery after being shot in the leg during his apprehension, according to a senior Belgian security official, who asked for anonymity to speak about the investigation.
“He seemed very tired and he had been operated on the day before,” the official said, adding that law enforcement officials did not question him again before Tuesday.
“They were not thinking about the possibilities of what happened on Tuesday morning,” said a second source with knowledge of the process.
Negligently, investigators only focused on the details of the January Paris attack. Already, US, French, and Turkish officials have blasted Belgium’s intelligence failures, rightly arguing that the global jihadist insurgency makes every Western-oriented country vulnerable to terror threats.
As ISIS sleeper cells communicate and send orders across the European continent, gaps in intelligence sharing and security surveillance will be further exposed. Belgium’s security failures may very well create a domino effect across the region, allowing ISIS guerillas the latitude needed to carry out more heinous attacks against civilians.