2016 terrorists committed test murder in Brussels ‘to see how it felt to kill’
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2016 terrorists committed test murder in Brussels ‘to see how it felt to kill’

The El Bakraoui brothers Ibrahim and Khalid. Police handout.

Two brothers who took part in the suicide bombings at Brussels Airport and Maelbeek metro in 2016 first carried out a random murder just to see what killing a human being would be like, according to investigation details revealed by De Morgen.

The two brothers were Ibrahim El Bakraoui, who blew himself up in the departures hall of Brussels Airport on 22 March 2016, and his brother Khalid, who did the same on board a Brussels metro train in Maelbeek station about one hour later.

In the combined attack, 32 members of the public were killed, and more than 300 injured. Both El Bakraoui brothers were killed, along with one confederate.

The news comes from the release of confidential reports from interviews with the surviving accused terrorists, reported by investigate journalist Douglas De Coninck of De Morgen. De Coninck has built a career on his extraordinary access to to information not available to other reporters. However the revelation of information that might be crucial to the prosecution case might carry some risk.

The crucial details in this part of the case come from statements made under caution by Mohamed Abrini – who allegedly left the third luggage trolley in the departures hall at Zaventem and walked all the way back to Brussels, leaving his two confederates to blow themselves up. He was tracked by CCTV along the entire route – and was known as ‘the man in the hat’ – but was lost somewhere in Schaerbeek.

The second source is Osama Krayem, also known as Naim al Hamed, a Swedish national who is thought to have supplied the bombers, and to have been present at Maelbeek metro when Khalid El Bakraoui boarded the train to blow himself and others up.

It was Krayem who revealed to detectives that the El Bakraoui brothers had carried out what amounts to a dry run murder – except that a man died as a result.

The evidence amounts to hearsay, but in the absence of the alleged killers, it does provide a measure of closure to the family of the victim, 76-year-old Paul-André Vanderperren, as well as investigators in that case.

Khalid told me that he and Ibrahim had shot someone in the street,” Krayem said according to the interrogation files.

Someone chosen at random. I asked him what else had happened. He said the police had recovered the body and that was it. He smiled when he told me.”

In a later interview, Krayem added, “Khalid explained to me that it was an elderly person and they wanted to test what it was like to kill someone.”

Paul-André Vanderperren was a 76-year-old retired civil servant and a fan of Anderlecht football club, and was last seen leaving the cafe Mercure in Jette having watched his club play on TV as was his habit. His murder was a mystery to investigators, who were at a loss to find any possible motive.

As it now appears, there was none. Paul-Andre died so that two future mass killers could find out what murder feels like.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times