Belgium Admits Major Failures Before Attack

Top ministers offer their resignations
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2016 4:00 AM CDT
Belgium Admits Major Failures Before Attack
A giant Belgian flag set up for a candlelit vigil lies next to tributes backdropped by the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

In the aftermath of the Brussels attack, top Belgian officials have admitted that they could have done more to prevent it—including paying attention when Turkey deported Ibrahim El Bakraoui to the European Union and warned that he was a dangerous militant. Authorities have now disclosed that his brother, Khalid El Bakraoui, was being sought in connection with last year's Paris attack, reports the New York Times. Both brothers became suicide bombers on Tuesday, and the intelligence failures have prompted what the Guardian calls "soul searching" in Belgium, which has been criticized by some of its European allies for what one French minister called a "lack of will" in dealing with Islamic extremists.

Belgium's justice and interior ministers have offered to resign over the intelligence failures, but Prime Minister Charles Michel has refused to accept the resignations. Sources tell Reuters that the brothers were on a US watch list, and it's not clear whether American authorities shared information on them with their European Union counterparts. The Wall Street Journal reports that while Belgium has come under fire for failures, the EU as a whole has been struggling to implement intelligence-sharing plans, with an initiative to track potential terrorists traveling by air held up by European Parliament concerns about privacy. Six suspects were arrested in Brussels Thursday night, along with a man in France who was allegedly planning a fresh attack. (More Brussels attack stories.)

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