Erdogan: Belgium set free Brussels attacker Turkey warned

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says one of Brussels attackers had previously been deported by Ankara which warned Belgian authorities over his links with terrorist network

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) hold a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on March 23, 2016.

Updated Mar 24, 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that one of the attackers in the Brussels suicide bombings was deported last June from Turkey, which subsequently warned Belgium that he was a terrorist.

Belgium has named two brothers as being the DAESH suicide bombers responsible for the attacks in Brussels which killed at least 31 people on Tuesday, adding that another suspect is still on the run.

Speaking at a news conference, Erdogan said that the attacker was deported to the Netherlands at his own request and Turkey also notified Dutch authorities.

“One of the attackers in Brussels was previously deported by us [Turkey] after we captured him in [Turkey’s southeastern province] Gaziantep in June 2015.”

President Erdogan said the Belgian authorities had failed to confirm the suspect's links to terrorism "despite our warnings" following his deportation. 

Belgian consular authorities were formally notified of his deportation on July 14, 2015 adding that he was then released by the Belgian authorities, he noted.

He did not specify how he had been transferred from the Netherlands to Belgium.

Erdogan's office identified the attacker as Ibrahim el Bakraoui.

"I believe that we can work this out (the fight against terror) if world leaders form an alliance against terror. For that, we need to redefine global terror and terrorists," Erdogan added.

Turkey has previously complained that Western countries did not heed warnings of the dangers posed by terrorists belonging to various armed groups it expelled back to Europe after arresting them at the Syrian border.

Erdogan previously drew attention to the fact that there is no real difference between terror organisations, whether they were PKK terrorists targeting Ankara or the attackers in the Belgian capital.

“Terrorists have clearly showed one more time that they have no difference among themselves in terms of the heinous methods they have used,” the Turkish president underlined on Tuesday during his condemnation of the Brussels attacks.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also reminded European leaders on Wednesday that the continent has no better partner than Turkey to ensure regional security following the attacks.  

European officials have expressed willingness to improve intelligence sharing with Turkey and praised the increase in their cooperation in recent months.

TRTWorld and agencies