Dutch 'discussed' terror brothers with Belgium before blasts
The Netherlands had notified Belgium about the criminal backgrounds of suicide bombers Ibrahim El Bakraoui and his brother Khalid five days before the Brussels blasts, the Dutch justice minister revealed Tuesday.
Answering questions in the Dutch parliament, Ard van der Steur said Dutch police had received an FBI report sent March 16 "in which there was notification of Ibrahim El Bakraoui and his brother Khalid's criminal backgrounds and Khalid's terrorist background."
The following day "the issue came up during bilateral contact between the Dutch and Belgian police," said Van der Steur.
"The radical background of both the brothers was discussed," the Dutch minister said, without giving details.
He also confirmed US news reports last week that the FBI had had Ibrahim El Bakraoui on a US-based terror watch list since 25 September 2015.
The Dutch minister's revelations come as under-fire Belgian authorities Tuesday continued to hunt a fugitive bomber, one week after the deadly blasts in the Belgian capital that killed 35.
Ibrahim El Bakraoui was one of two bombers who blew themselves up at Brussels airport. His brother Khalid blew himself up at Maalbeek metro station.
Under pressure at home and abroad over an apparent series of missed clues about criminals linked to jihadist networks, the Belgian government has admitted mistakes were made.
In the most glaring such example, Turkey accused Belgium last week of ignoring a clear and present danger after revealing it had deported Ibrahim El Bakraoui as a "terrorist" suspect last year, after arresting him near the Syrian border.
The Dutch justice minister last week confirmed that Turkey sent Bakraoui back to the Netherlands, but stressed he had not been known to Dutch law enforcement or been on any watch lists.
It was not known how long Bakraoui stayed in the Netherlands before returning to Belgium, Van der Steur said.
© 2016 AFP