Report: Brussels airport suicide bombers targeted Jews and US travelers


(JTA) — A suicide bomb attack on the Brussels airport last year targeted Jews and people traveling to the United States, the French news service AFP reported.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the March 22 attack, as well as the suicide bombing at a metro station in central Brussels that took place an hour later. The attacks killed 32.

Mohamed Abrini, an airport attacker nicknamed the “man in the hat,” reportedly told a Belgian court following his arrest on April 8 that one of the original targets was the departure area for flights to Tel Aviv. Abrini fled the airport without detonating his bomb-filled suitcase.

“We know they wanted to target Americans. It’s clear they had quite specific targets,” an unnamed source close to the investigation told AFP. “We know they were obsessed with the Israelis, too.”

The source told the news service that camera footage never made public showed one of the bombers standing among 60 high school students before he started to follow two haredi Orthodox Jews, indicating that he “really, clearly wanted to kill a Jew.”

Four of the dead were Americans. Two young Israelis, both Belz Hasids who were easily identified as Jewish, were injured in the attacks and flown to Jerusalem for treatment.

The AFP also cited an unnamed U.S. government source who said that investigators “are very confident they [bombers] were targeting U.S., Russia and Israel.”

The attack occurred at around 8 a.m. on a Tuesday, shortly before scheduled flights to the United States, Israel and Russia were set to depart by airlines including United, American, Delta, El Al, Brussels Airlines and Aeroflot.

Investigators believe the bombers were part of the same Brussels-based ISIS cell that planned the Paris attacks in November 2015.

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