Belgian officials Monday released a man known as only Faycal C., a suspect arrested during raids after last Tuesday's Brussels attacks that killed 35 people and injured over 300. Local media claimed the man was the suspect seen in the CCTV footage of the bombers at the airport.
The judge, who ruled on the case, reportedly said Monday that there was no evidence to justify holding the man. Belgian public TV and French language Belgian daily Le Soir identified the man as Faycal Cheffou, a freelance journalist, according to BBC. Local reports said that despite his release, the charges against him remain intact. The man was arrested on March 24 and charged with “participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempted terrorist murders,” BBC reported.
Belgian federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement: “The clues that led to the arrest of Faycal C. were not substantiated by the ongoing inquiry. ... As a result, the subject has been released by the examining magistrate,” according to BBC.
On Monday, Belgian officials also charged Yassine A., Mohamed B. and Aboubaker O. for their suspected participation in terrorist activities, after detaining them Sunday. The prosecutors reportedly did not reveal details about the actions committed by the suspects, and it was not clear if they were linked to the Brussels attacks themselves, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Others detained on suspicion of terrorist activity include Salah Abdeslam, the prime suspect of the Paris attacks; Amine Choukri, arrested on March 18 with Abdeslam; Rabah N., arrested on March 25 and charged with participation in terrorist activities over foiled plot to attack Paris; Abderamane A., shot in the leg and arrested on March 25 at a tram stop in Brussels and charged with links to the foiled plot to attack Paris; Aboubakar A., arrested on March 27 and charged with belonging to a terrorist group, the BBC reported.
The mystery suspect from the CCTV footage was seen walking alongside the two suicide bombers at the airport and fled the scene after the attack. He was seen wearing a light-colored jacket and a hat, and was seen pushing a trolley with the other two. The Belgian Federal Police's website posted a 32-second video of the unidentified man in the hat, saying: “If you recognize this individual or you have information concerning this attack, please contact investigators,” the AP reported. The manhunt for this individual is still underway.
The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks in the Belgian capital city that included two suicide bombings at the airport in Zaventem and one in the Maelbeek metro station that is close to several European Union institutions. Last November, the Sunni militant group claimed the Paris attacks that killed 130 people.
Tensions remain high in Brussels, especially in the suburban area of Molenbeek, the hub of several arrested suspects. Jamal Ikazban, a member of the Molenbeek council, said in a tweet Monday that recruiters for militant groups like ISIS had been sending messages to young people in the neighborhood to hire them. Ikazban did not explain further but said, according to the AP: “We must ensure these recruiters can do no more damage.”