UPDATE: 2:20 p.m. EDT — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday his government had detained Brussels bombing suspect Ibrahim el-Bakraoui in June 2015 before deporting him. Erdogan said Turkish authorities identified him as a militant and that Belgium had ignored Turkey’s warnings by later releasing him after finding "no links with terrorism," Reuters reported.
Turkey has been hit by several terrorist attacks in recent months including one in the capital of Ankara March 13 that left at least 37 dead. Erdogan had warned Europe last week of a growing terror threat, the Washington Post reported.
“There is no reason for the bomb which exploded in Ankara not to explode in Brussels, where an opportunity to show off in the heart of the city to supporters of the terror organization is presented, or in any city in Europe,” the Turkish leader said on Friday.
Ibrahim el-Bakraoui and his brother Khalid el-Bakraoui were known to Belgian authorities for criminal acts. Ibrahim el-Bakraoui was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2010 for shooting a police during a robbery while Khalid el-Bakraoui was arrested for having Kalashnikovs in his possession in 2011. Khalid el-Bakraoui was also involved in a carjacking.
As investigators continue to search for the surviving Brussels bomber, authorities identified brothers Khalid el-Bakraoui, 27, and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, 30, as two of the men involved in the attacks that killed at least 34 people and left at least 230 more wounded in Brussels.
The terror attacks began early Tuesday morning with two explosions at the Zaventem airport in Brussels, followed by a third blast at the Maelbeek Metro Station close to many European Union buildings. Najim Laachraoui, 24, was one of the attackers present at the Zaventem Airport. Both Khalid el-Bakraoui and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui died in the attacks as a result of carrying out suicide bombings.
Ibrahim el-Bakraoui died at Zaventem Airport while Khalid el-Bakraoui died at the Maelbeek Metro Station, Belgian newspaper Le Soir reported. Both of the brothers have criminal records for robberies. One of the brothers was believed to have rented an apartment in the Charleroi area of Brussels prior to the November attacks in France, and some of the Paris attackers departed from the apartment to launch the attacks that killed 130 people. One of the brothers may have also provided ammunition for the Paris attack, Belgian news site RTBF reported. The brothers were Belgian nationals, according to the the Guardian.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 23, 2016
The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack. Belgian authorities found an ISIS flag and an explosive device while conducting searches in the Schaerbeek neighborhood Tuesday. ISIS also claimed responsibility for the November attacks in Paris.
Belgian authorities captured Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam last week in Brussels and believe he could have been involved in the planning of Tuesday's attacks. Khalid el-Bakraoui rented an apartment in Brussels that helped lead to the capture of Abdeslam, who is believed to have spent time in the apartment.
Belgium is in a national state of mourning for the next three days.