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Islamic State Eulogizes Brussels Bombers, Promises 'More Devastating' Attacks

A piece that appears in the latest issue of 'Dabiq' heaps praise on the terrorists behind the bombings that took place at Brussels Airport in March while threatening future assaults on Europe.

by VICE News and Reuters
Apr 13 2016, 5:00pm

Foto via Dabiq

The Islamic State published obituaries on Wednesday of the suicide bombers who killed 32 people in Brussels, providing some new details of about the personal histories and motivations of its operatives.

The article, titled "The Knights of Martyrdom in Belgium," appears in the latest issue of the group's online magazine, Dabiq. It confirmed investigator's suspicions that one of the bombers, Najim Laachraoui, made bombs that were used in the November terror attacks in Paris. The English-language article also contained threats for future attacks against Europe.

"Flames ignited years ago in Iraq have now scorched the battleground of Belgium, soon to spread to the rest of crusader Europe and the West," it says. "Brussels, the heart of Europe, has been struck."

"Paris was a warning. Brussels was a reminder," it says ominously. "What is yet to come will be more devastating."

Related: Survey Says Most Arab Youth Reject the Islamic State and Think It Will Fail

The obituary identified the Belgian El Bakraoui brothers with a lead role in organizing the Paris attacks, which security officials in Europe had already suspected. It also extolled Laachraoui, a 25-year-old Belgian who blew himself up at Brussels airport on March 22, calling him "very intelligent" and noting that he "travelled the long road to France" after having fought in Syria since 2013.

"It was Abu Idris who prepared the explosives for the two raids in Paris and Brussels," it added, using Laachraoui's nom de guerre. Investigators had earlier identified Laachraoui, a former engineering student, as the cell's bomb maker. His fingerprints were found on suicide vests used in the Paris attacks, and were also later discovered at a Brussels apartment where militants had made a homemade explosive known as TATP. It was from there that he and two other men took a taxi to the airport, where the bombings took place on March 22.

The article also claimed that El Bakraoui brothers had both become a "believers" while in prison. Khalid El Bakraoui, 27, who blew himself up on a metro train at Maelbeek station in Brussels' EU district, was described as a "natural leader" who had a "vivid, life-changing dream" while jailed for a carjacking.

"These two brothers gathered the weapons and the explosives," the article says. "After the blessed raid in Paris, he saw another dream, which motivated him to carry out an istishhadi (martyrdom) operation."

Related: German Spy Chief Says the Islamic State Wants to Attack — But He's Not Sure Where or How

Along with notes on the three suicide bombers, Dabiq also acknowledged Mohamed Belkaid, a 35-year-old Algerian who was shot dead by police on March 15 in a raid on an apartment in the Brussels suburb of Forest that took place just a week ahead of the attack.

Belkaid, the Dabiq article claimed, had reached Europe from Syria along with Laachraoui, confirming investigators' conclusions that the two men traveled together posing as Syrian refugees last summer and that they were driven to Belgium by Salah Abdeslam, a prime suspect in the Paris attacks who was arrested three days after the Forest raid.

Without naming those who escaped from the apartment when police moved in, Dabiq said Belkaid stayed behind to hold off Belgian and French officers, wounding several. Investigators think Abdeslam may have been among those who got away that day.

The account in Dabiq did not mention Mohamed Abrini by name, an associate of Abdeslam who accompanied the suicide bombers to the airport. He fled the scene and was later captured on April 8. He's now being interrogated by Belgian authorities.

The latest issue of Dabiq also includes a lengthy refutation of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the group considers to be apostates, and includes a list of imams working in the West that it condemns.