Khalid El Bakraoui, who perpetrated the terrorist attack in the Maelbeek metro station on March 22nd this year, was involved in secret negotiations. The purpose of these negotiations was to obtain a ransom from the insurers for the Van Buuren museum in Uccle.
Paris Match today (Thursday) reveals that in July 2013 the museum was the victim of a robbery.
At the time, being under electronic surveillance, El Bakraoui was probably not directly involved in the heist.
The magazine states that a federal undercover policeman, from Counter-terrrorism (known in Belgium as CGSU), impersonated an intermediary of the three museum insurance companies.
He did so both to identify the perpetrators of the ransom demand and to recover the lost works of art. The set included around a dozen paintings, in particular a work by James Ensor and another by Kees Van Dongen, estimated to be worth 1.2 million euros.
These negotiations took place between July 2013 and May 2015, before being halted.
The perpetrators have never been arrested and the works have never been found.
The writer of the article adds that, in all likelihood, the potential ransom may have provided the finance for Khalid El Bakraoui’s terrorist activities.
At this time, El Bakraoui was already extremely radicalised and engaged in the preparatory phase of the Paris attacks.