Paris Attack Fugitive's Prints Found at Brussels Raid Siteby
Abdeslam's prints retrieved in March 15 raid, prosecutors say
Police manhunt continues for two other terrorism suspects
The fingerprints of suspected Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam were found during Tuesday’s raid of a house in Brussels, Belgian officials said, as a manhunt continued for two other unidentified suspects.
Brussels police Friday afternoon were carrying out new raids in the Molenbeek area of the Belgian capital, VTM reported. “Dozens” of shots were heard during the operation in Rue des Quatre Vents, according to the broadcaster.
Abdeslam’s prints were retrieved during the March 15 raid in the Forest borough of Brussels, which was conducted as part of the investigation into the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris, the Belgian federal prosecutors office said in a statement on Friday. It hasn’t been established how old the fingerprints were or how long Abdeslam spent in the apartment on Rue du Dries, the Associated Press reported.
Belgium’s terror threat level was left at three, the second-highest level, on Wednesday, after federal prosecutors identified a suspect killed in Tuesday’s Belgian-French police operation as Mohamed Belkaid, 35-year-old Algerian national residing in the country illegally. Belkaid was “most probably” the same suspect that police said in December was using a fake Belgian identity card with the name of Samir Bouzid, the prosecutors said in a separate statement on Friday.
A man using the false identity of Bouzid accompanied Abdeslam on a trip to Hungary in September, according to the prosecutors. The fake ID card also was used four days after the Paris attacks in a money transfer from a Western Union office in Brussels to Hasna Ait Boulahcen, the niece of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the prosecutors office said. Abaaoud, whom investigators believe to be the mastermind of the Paris attacks, and Boulahcen both died in the French police raid in Saint-Denis on Nov. 18.
Belkaid’s body was found with a Kalashnikov rifle next to it, with ammunition magazines and shell casings in the apartment. An Islamic State flag and book about radical Islam were found in the residence, the prosecutors said.
Police are searching for two other suspects who “were probably present” in the apartment at the time of the raid, the prosecutors office said on Wednesday. While Abdeslam remains on the run, Belgian authorities have detained a dozen other suspects on terrorism charges. All of them had their residences in Brussels.