Government freezes bank accounts of 15 suspected terrorists
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    Government freezes bank accounts of 15 suspected terrorists

    © Belga
    Asset-freezing of the accounts and property of 15 presumed terrorists has taken place.
    © Belga

    The government has decided to freeze the accounts of individuals suspected of supplying funds for the Brussels attacks. Amongst them, features Oussama Atar. He is the presumed mastermind behind the Paris and Brussels attacks.

    The royal decree, which appeared yesterday (Wednesday) in the Belgian Official Journal, makes provision in respect of financial assets, real property and other property of these individuals.

    This appears in the Sudpresse publications and De Tijd today (Thursday).

    Oussama Atar, 32, is suspected by the courts of being behind the Paris attacks of November 13th, 2015, and the Brussels attacks on March 22nd this year.

    Atar is actually a cousin of the brothers Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui, the terrorists who were also the suicide bombers on March 22nd at Brussels Airport and Maelbeek metro station.

    Sources close to the investigation indicated on Tuesday that Atar hid behind the name “Abou Ahmad”. He is an individual who, up until now, has remained a mystery.

    He is thought both to have been staying in Syria and to have been controlling the members of the terrorist cell. In recent months, police have undertaken several searches of Atar’s entourage.

    In an interview granted to AFP (Agence France Presse), the Federal Prosecutor, Frédéric Van Leeuw, indicated on Wednesday that the identification of Atar, as one of the masterminds behind this, was ‘a working hypothesis’.

    He said, “We still need to undertake an entire series of checks.”

    Amongst the other individuals targeted in this asset freeze are Yassine Lachiri, a close relative of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who left in 2012 for Syria and Anouar Haddouchi, whose bank account was used to pay 3,800 euros to Mohamed Abrini.

    In addition, Bilal Bouit, thought to be one of the links to Najim Laachraoui, who was one of the Brussels Airport terrorists, and two women are also on the list.

    The possibility to freeze terrorists’ accounts without judicial approval has existed since 2006, but it is the first time that the government has used it.

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times