The 45-year-old Tunisian was in Belgium illegally – Alert level raised – Belgian Prime Minister: “The attack was terrorist madness”
Belgian authorities have launched a manhunt for the arrest of the gunman who opened fire in the city center on Monday evening, killing two people and injuring another.
The suspect in the deadly shootings in Brussels is a 45-year-old Tunisian who sought asylum in Belgium in November 2019, Justice Minister Vincent van Quickenborn announced at a press conference. “This person was known to the police for suspicious activity, human trafficking and illegal residence.” The man was reportedly convicted in Tunisia of common criminal law offenses and not of terrorism, as previously reported by various Belgian media.
The suspected perpetrator of the deadly shooting in Brussels is still on the run, Prime Minister de Alexandre Croix has announced. The suspect was residing illegally in Belgium. Due to the possible terrorist motive, the federal prosecutor’s office has now taken over the investigation.
Interior Minister Anneliese Verlinden spoke of “horrific events” at the press conference. The minister emphasized that the security services are doing everything they can to identify the perpetrator. “We are united against terrorism and we will always be stronger,” Verlinden said.
The alert level has been raised
The alert level in Brussels was raised to 4 after the attack, which is the highest level. “This means that there will be an increased police presence and that there will be extra security for sensitive areas, for example areas of the Swedish community,” De Cro said. There will be additional checks. He urged everyone to be on “extra vigilance”.
Alert level 3 is in place for the rest of the country, where additional checks will be carried out. The measures will be reassessed later today and at 4 p.m. (Greece time) when a security council will be held.
De Cro: “The attack was terrorist madness”
“The attack on Brussels was terrorist madness,” the Belgian prime minister said. “Two lives were suddenly lost, reaped by the most extreme cruelty. Our thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones and their relatives. We express our condolences.”
The 45-year-old radicalized Tunisian was in Belgium illegally
According to RTBF, the suspect in the shooting in Brussels is 45-year-old Abdesalem L., a man of Tunisian origin who lives in Serbeek, and is said to be living illegally in Belgium.
In a video in which the man, with a thick Tunisian accent, claimed responsibility for the attack, he said he was a member of Islamic State. In Arabic he says he killed three Swedes. His home in Serbeek was under search all night.
His action was not directly related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although he mentioned the Islamophobic killing of a little boy in the United States on the Facebook account where he posted the video. The suspect reportedly acted alone.
The Muslim Council of Belgium condemns the attack
The Muslim Council of Belgium condemned the attack in Brussels. The council calls on the authorities “to act with the utmost determination to protect our national community” and “to bring transparency as quickly as possible to this “importation” of conflicts that do not concern us.”
The Assembly of Muslims in Belgium also “strongly condemns this cowardly, despicable and despicable act,” the organization said in a press release. According to the statement, the attack is “contrary to the values of peace, coexistence and human brotherhood that Islam stands for.”
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