Is he the man in the hat? Abrini’s confession not credible according to expert
Sunday, 10 April 2016
Belgian analyst Pieter Van Ostayene thinks that it is not likely that Mohamed Abrini was the third person responsible for the terror attack at Brussels Airport. “This is just a feeling, but I can hardly imagine that someone with such a position in the Islamic state is the man in the hat,” he said on Saturday (9 April) in an interview to Belga news agency.
Pieter Van Ostayene is a historian and arabist who comments on current affairs in the Middle East.
Abrini was captured on Friday. On Saturday evening the federal prosecutor declared that Abrini had confessed that he was the “man in the hat” seen in the surveillance photo from the airport pushing one of the luggage trolleys with the explosives.
The prosecutor commented to media that Abrini had confessed “after having been confronted with the results of different technical investigation.”
“This does not correspond to how the Islamic State operates, and I have been following them for years,” Pieter Van Ostayene says. “The rhetoric doesn’t fit into the whole picture.
“I cannot imagine that anyone with such a function in the Islamic State will suddenly say ‘it happened like this’ and explain that he has sold his hat – I don’t believe this for a minute. In my opinion this is a cover to protect the rest of the network.”
One of the ringleaders in the terror cell, Salah Abdeslam, who was captured before the terror attacks in Brussels, did not confess anything to the police.
Abrini was charged on Sunday (10 April) for his participation in the terror attack at Zaventem airport. According to the federal prosecutor he was part of the gang that hit the airport on March 22 with Najim Lachraoui and Ibrahim El Bakraoui.
He has been wanted since the attacks in Paris. He was particularly visible in video surveillance images with Salah Abdeslam two days before the Paris attacks.