The newspapers De Tijd and l’Echo reported on Tuesday, on the basis of anonymous police sources, that the police already knew in July 2014 that the brothers Salah and Brahim Abdeslam were planning an attack. Following this information, the Federal Prosecutor carried out a spot check of surveillance by the anti-terrorist unit (DR3) of the Police Judiciaire Fédérale Bruxelles (PJF – Brussels Federal Criminal Police). The conclusion from this check is that the information circulated was incorrect.
“In reality, the Federal Police received information in mid-July 2014.” This information concerned, in particular, the presence within Syria of a certain Abdelhamid and his thirteen year old brother. The connection was immediately made with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who had been outside Belgium from January 2014 onwards and at the time was already subject to checks in the case against Zerkani and his associates. Abaaoud was moreover sentenced for his role in this,by default, on 29 July 2015 to 20 years imprisonment,” indicated the spokesperson for the prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt.
“The information received in July 2014 made no reference to any attack or planned attack and did not mention the name ‘Abdeslam’. There was only a vague unsubstantiated mention to the two brothers, of whom one was thought to be in the process of being radicalised.
According the Federal Prosecutor, the first mention of a possible departure of the Abdeslam brothers in Syria dates back to January 2015 and has been the subject of two police reports by the Brussels-West police area. On 16 February 2015, the home of the Abdeslam brothers was searched and telephone checks were made at the request of the federal police. There was no evidence of any crime linked to terrorism, so both cases were dismissed for the time being. Nevertheless, the Abdeslam brothers have continued to be flagged as a risk to the Federal Proescutor.