BRUSSELS, Jan 12, (Agencies): Belgium has charged two suspects with providing false documents to a man linked to the November 2015 Paris attacks, who later blew himself up on a crowded Brussels metro, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
The pair, a man and a woman, were “suspected to have provided Khalid Bakraoui with the false documents afterwards used in preparation of the Paris attacks,” which were claimed by the Islamic State group and killed 130 people, prosecutors said. Bakraoui was the suicide bomber at a Brussels metro station while his brother Ibrahim and another man attacked Brussels airport in coordinated suicide attacks that killed 32 people on March 22 last year. Belgian press reports said the suspects identified Thursday as Farid K. and Meryem E.B. were the same people who were arrested during an anti-terror raid on a home in the Brussels district of Laeken on Tuesday. Farid K. has “been charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group, falsification of documents and use of false documents,” the prosecutor’s office said. Meryem E.B. “has been charged with falsification of documents and use of false documents,” it said.
Farid K. has been placed in police custody while Meryem E.B was released under “strict” conditions, it added. Some 20 people have been charged in Belgium in connection with the Paris attacks. Investigators say the Paris and Brussels attacks were carried out by the same cell. Investigators said Bakraoui used a false name to rent an apartment in the southern Brussels district of Forest that was raided one week before the metro and airport bombings.
A French woman police officer and three Belgian colleagues were wounded in the March 15 shootout at the apartment in which an Algerian Islamist suspect was killed. Police found in the apartment the fingerprints of Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam, the only known jihadist to have survived the massacres there, and arrested him three days later in central Brussels. Prosecutors also believe Bakraoui used a false name and Belgian identity card to rent a fl at in the southern Belgian city of Charleroi which served as a base for the Paris attackers.