Belgium identifies Paris attacks suspect's true identity

Belgium identifies Paris attacks suspect's true identity as 24-year-old Najim Laachraoui, who used Soufiane Kayal as alias

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Armed Belgian police apprehend a suspect, in this still image taken from video, in Molenbeek, near Brussels, Belgium, March 18, 2016.

Belgian prosecutors on Monday revealed the identity of a suspected accomplice in last year's Paris attacks as 24-year-old Najim Laachraoui, known by the alias of Soufiane Kayal, up until now.

"The investigation showed that Soufiane Kayal can be identified as Najim Laachraoui, born on May 18, 1991 and who travelled to Syria in February 2013," prosecutors said in a statement in Brussels.

With aa alias, Laachraoui rented an apartment in Auvelais, near the central Belgian city of Namur, where the attacks were plotted.

He used the same false name at the border between Austria and Hungary on September 9, when he was travelling with Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Belkaid.

Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French national of Moroccan origin, is believed to be the last surviving member of the DAESH terrorist team that carried out the Paris attacks. He was captured in Brussels last Friday. Belkaid, a 35-year-old Algerian, was shot dead two days earlier in a police raid in the Forest District of Brussels.

This handout file picture released on December 4, 2015 by the Belgian police shows Najim Laachraoui, who used fake identity documents bearing the name Soufiane Kayal.

The three men had posed as tourists heading to Vienna on holiday and did not raise suspicions when they were stopped by police.

"Laachraoui's DNA was found at the Auvelais home and at a house in Schaarbeek [in Brussels], which were used by the terrorist group," the prosecutors said in the statement.

They appealed to the public to contact police with any information about Laachraoui or his whereabouts.

Investigators suspect that both Laachraoui and Belkaid spoke to some of DAESH terrorists by phone on the evening of the attacks, targeting the Bataclan concert venue, restaurants, bars and the Stade de France stadium.

On Saturday, the prime surviving suspect in November's Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, answered questions from Belgian investigators. His lawyer said he will fight extradition to France. Abdelslam planned to blow himself up on Nov. 13 at the Stade de France, but changed his mind, the Paris prosecutor said.

Last week, A Belgian prosecutor announced the name of the gunman shot dead on Tuesday in Brussels, following a raid linked to investigations into the Paris attack, as Mohamed Belkaid, a 35-year-old Algerian living illegally in Belgium.

On the night of November 13, the French capital, Paris, was shaken by multiple terror attacks targeting six different sites which caused 130 deaths and injured more than 300 others.