“City of Jihad: Chilling map reveals how Isis fanatics established network of terror where they could plot under noses of police,” by Jake Wallis Simons, Mailonline, March 23, 2016:
…Police in the district of Schaerbeek said their pleas for help were ignored…
The seeds of the terror blasts that shook Europe were planted by a brotherhood of childhood friends who grew up just a few doors away from each other in a part of Brussels dubbed the ‘crucible of terror’.
Police following the trail of the terrorist murderers behind the atrocities in France and Belgium have repeatedly arrived at a single block of housing in Molenbeek, a district of Brussels known as a hotbed of jihadism.
The centre of the deadly network is the Abdeslam family home, a first floor apartment on Gemeenteplaats, behind the local police station – and just round the corner from the home of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the brains behind the Paris attacks.
Abaaoud, the linchpin of the terror cell, was killed in a furious shootout with police in Saint-Denis, Paris, in the aftermath of the November massacres. He has emerged as the group’s ringleader, along with Salah Abdeslam.
Brothers Salah and Brahim Abdeslam were involved in the carnage in Paris, in which Brahim, 31, was killed in a suicide attack on the Comptoir Voltaire restaurant.
It is understood that Salah, 26, went on the run without detonating his suicide vest.
Salah, who is accused of making the bombs used in the attacks, was arrested last week round the corner from the family home in a frantic police raid after four months on the run. He is also thought to have been involved in the Brussels attacks with a ‘new network’ of fanatics.
Just a few doors down from the Abdeslam and Abaaoud apartments is the family home of Mohamed Abrini, 30, who drove the Abdeslam brothers to Paris to carry out the attacks and is accused of being involved with the Brussels plot. He remains at large, and police are desperately trying to track him down.
Abrini is a childhood friend of Salah Abdeslam, and it is thought that the two became radicalised together. Moreover, Abrini’s younger brother Souleymane, 20, died in 2014 in Syria while fighting in the same ISIS military unit as Abaaoud, [sic]
Yesterday, a family member at the Abrini property told MailOnline she was ‘in a state of shock’ in the aftermath of the latest atrocities, and feared that Abrini may have once again been involved.
The tight-knit network doesn’t end there. A short distance from the Abdeslam and Abrini residences is the home of Ayoub El Khazzani, the terrorist who launched the botched gun and bomb attack on the Amsterdam-to-Paris express train in August last year.
The close bond shared by the band of brothers sheds new light on the dangers threatening Europe, where the efforts of a small number of childhood friends can bring the continent to its knees.
It also allows police to piece together the process by which they were radicalised, and identify which members of the cell were the linchpins and which were under their spell.
Questions remain about how the gang of young men, all of whom were Belgian citizens, can have transformed into death-loving monsters, showing loyalty to each other but a profound hatred of their country and fellow citizens.
Although Molenbeek is the gang’s centre of gravity, last night it emerged that Salah Abdeslam had moved his operations to Schaerbeek, a district of Brussels three miles away.
It was there that the notorious bomb factory was located, where the El Bakraoui brothers prepared for Tuesday’s attacks.
Ibrahim El Bakraoui, 30, carried out the airport bombing, and his younger brother Khalid, 27, blew himself up at Maelbeek Metro on Tuesday morning.
The terror den, on the fifth floor of a dilapidated apartment block, was found to contain explosive materials and an ISIS flag.
The killer brothers took a taxi to the scene of the attacks with a fourth suspected bomber, who remains at large.
Also involved with the Brussels plot was ‘The Man in White’ Najim Laachraoui, who escaped from the airport blast and is still on the run. He too lived in Schaerbeek.
The twisted Bakraoui brothers rented a flat in the Forest suburb of Brussels. Armed police raided the address on Tuesday and shot dead Algerian Mohamed Belkaid.
MailOnline spoke to Mohammed Abdeslam, the prime suspect’s brother, outside the family home.
The officers spoke at the scene of one of the police raids that took place in the district last night, near the Ahl Allah mosque….
As police tried to control the throngs of young men of Middle Eastern and north African descent who had gathered to watch, they were mocked with hoots and chicken noises.
Masked officers arrested at least three young men before order was restored.
‘There is no terrorist on this street. The police are making it up to make Muslims look bad,’ said 27-year-old Mohammed, surrounded by several other young men. ‘It is a set-up.’
But Sofian, 27, said he was worried that the terror investigation in the district would give it a bad name.
‘It was just one or two people who happened to be living here,’ he said. ‘There are terror cells all over Brussels, not just in Schaerbeek.’
Although Molenbeek has long had a reputation for radical Islamism, it is Schaerbeek that has been thrown into the spotlight in the latest stages of the investigation into the Brussels attacks.
Just hours after a series of blasts killed 34 people in the capital and injured hundreds more, police found a nail bomb, chemicals and an ISIS flag in a raid on an apartment in the district….
Najim Laachraoui, a newly-identified ISIS suspect whose DNA was found on bombs used in the Paris attacks, rented an apartment in Schaerbeek, and Paris terror suspect Salah Abdeslam is believed to have been holed up in an apartment there for three weeks after the massacres in France….
Suspicions that Abdeslam also masterminded the Brussels atrocities arose when Belgian police found his fingerprints on detonators intended for use in the attacks, according to an anonymous source quoted by Politico.
The latest revelations come after Belgium’s Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders, told a conference the day after Abdeslam’s arrest that the jihadi was ‘ready to restart something from Brussels’ using a new terror cell he had formed.
‘We found a lot of weapons, heavy weapons in the first investigations, and we have seen a new network of people around him in Brussels,’ he said.
Today, MailOnline spoke to Mohammed Abdeslam, the prime suspect’s brother, outside the family home.
‘I can’t tell you if my brother was supposed to be involved in today’s attack because if I told you I knew, I’d be in very big trouble right now,’ he said before driving off in his black BMW 4X4….