The group of terrorists that carried out recent attacks in Brussels had reportedly targeted the Euro 2016 soccer tournament scheduled to take place in France this summer. The French newspaper Libération reported Monday that Mohamed Abrini, a suspect arrested late last week, told Belgian investigators that the group had not initially intended to attack Brussels.
The report stated: “According to our information, Mohamed Abrini has explained the initial intention of this nebulous terrorist Franco-Belgian terrorist group was to go into action during the Euro football tournament,” via the U.K.'s the Guardian.
Instead, the terror cell, which has been connected to the group that claims to have carried out the November bombings and shootings in Paris that killed 130 people, targeted a Brussels airport and metro system. Thirty-two people were killed. Abrini reportedly told investigators the group made the change to its plot amid fears police were closing in on them after Salah Abdeslam, considered the last Paris attacker alive, was arrested.
The Associated Press reported Sunday that the group decided to carry out the attack in Brussels because they were “surprised by the speed of the progress in the ongoing investigation,” citing Belgian officials.
The Euro 2016 soccer tournament — perhaps the most intently watched international soccer tournament outside the World Cup — is scheduled to take place across 10 French cities between June 10 and July 10.
Major sporting events typically present security concerns, especially after a suicide bomber was prevented from entering Stade de France during a soccer match as the Paris attacks played out. The attacker detonated a vest after being denied entry by security.
The new information about the terror cell was not necessarily a surprise to French police. “It’s hardly a scoop to learn that the terrorists were hoping to attack during the Euro. The security forces are always examining possible attack scenarios to know how to respond,” a police officer told Libération, via the Guardian.