Khalid El Bakraoui, the alleged suicide bomber who blew himself up on the Brussels metro on March 22, was detained and questioned by police prior to the Paris attacks. He was released again due to lack of evidence. Police has not explained how El Bakraoui, whose phone was monitored, could stay undetected in the period between the Paris attacks and the Brussels attacks.
Khalid El Bakraoui lived in the Laaken district of the Belgian capital Brussels. On October 15, 2015, three weeks ahead of the so-called Paris attacks, police ransacked his apartment and detained him. Police arrived at the flat about 7 a.m. in the morning.
Police detained Khalid El Bakraoui for questioning. His computer allegedly contained “photos of terrorists” as well as “calls for an armed struggle against the west”. Police notes that he at this point “isn’t flagged as a radical” and is released.
Police claims that its units concerned with counter-terrorism, at this time, were to busy to allow them to investigate the matter further. Police allegedly only suspected Khalid El Bakraoui of arms trafficking.
The question how and why police would not consider a person under suspicion of arms trafficking, whose computer allegedly contained calls for armed struggle against the west as a potential terrorist has never really been answered.
Police had tapped El Bakraoui’s phone but imply that he used code during phone conversations; thus not substantiating any eventual suspicions for involvement in terrorism. El Bakraoui was allegedly released because of insufficient evidence.
His estranged wife reportedly wrote a letter to him, asking where he was and what he was doing, and why he was hiding everything from him. The couple was reportedly about to divorce. On March 22, Khalid El Bakraoui reportedly killed himself in a suicide bombing in the Brussels metro.
He reportedly rented the house at the address Rue du Fort 29, Ville de Charlern, that was used by the Paris attackers, using a false name. Police reportedly recognized his photo on the rent agreement and tried, unsuccessfully, to track him down. Police did not clarify how they could fail to pinpoint the position of the person whose telephone they were monitoring.