The Brussels master bombmaker – known as the ‘Man in White’ – is still on the run today after a series of special forces raids following the deadly attacks which killed 34 yesterday.
Belgium’s chief prosecutor this afternoon confirmed Najim Laachraoui is ‘still at large’ after Belgian media reported the ISIS explosives expert was taken alive by a SWAT team inside a pizzeria in the Anderlecht suburb of the city.
The latest twist came after Belgian brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui were named as two of the ISIS suicide bombers – eight days after they escaped police in a gunfight – and it is now clear there is a mystery fourth suicide bomber.
Laachraoui is suspected of rigging up the suicide vests that helped kill 34 in twin attacks yesterday – and is believed to have done the same for the Paris terrorists who murdered 130 in November.
He went on the run after leaving a suitcase packed with explosives and calmly walked from the terminal moments before the airport massacre at 8am Tuesday.
Just 79 minutes later Khalid El Bakraoui detonated his suicide vest on a Brussels Metro train at Maelbeek station killing 20 people.
The possible fourth bomber pictured on CCTV is believed to have blown himself up alongside Ibrahim El Bakraoui, who police say was identified by his fingerprints.
El Bakraoui’s will was also found in a bin at the terror cell’s safehouse, which also held bombmaking chemicals, an AK-47 and an ISIS flag.
Laachraoui was already one of the world’s most wanted men, having built the suicide vests used in the Paris attacks and went on the run with Salah Abdeslam, one of the other Paris massacre masterminds, before hiding in Brussels for four months.
Today it emerged there could have been another suitcase bomb set off in the airport but the ISIS fanatics couldn’t fit all their explosive-packed bags into a taxi outside their safehouse. They refused to let the driver touch the bags – prompting him to later contact the police about their suspicious behaviour.
Yesterday’s twin terror attacks on the Belgian capital that left at least 34 people dead are believed to have been revenge for Abdeslam’s capture – experts believe the jihadists launched the Brussels attacks because the net was closing in on their terror cell.
All of the men were ‘well known’ to detectives and had been on the run since Tuesday March 15 following a shoot-out in a terrorist hideout in the Belgian capital’s Forest suburb. They opened fire on police and fled.
Yet they still managed to find another address to stay, where they stored the explosives and guns used in Tuesday’s attacks.
Police have confirmed that those who carried it out have were part of a larger cell who carried out the Paris attacks four months ago.
Today it emerged that the El Bakraoui brothers fled a Brussels police raid last week where snipers shot and killed Paris bombing suspect Mohamed Belkaid, it emerged today.
Khalid El Bakraoui also rented the apartment where Paris terror attacker Salah Abdeslam was captured by anti-terror police last Friday, according to respected Belgium news organisation RTL.
The raid carried out last Tuesday on a flat in the suburb of Forest saw a sniper kill Belkaid while the El Bakraoui brothers managed to escape police.
Police were acting on a tip-off in connection to the Paris terror attacks, and carried out the raid in Forest, which is close to Molenbeek, where several jihadis behind the Paris attacks lived.
While there was initial speculation that the raid had aimed to capture Paris-terrorist Salah Abdeslam, who was arrested later in the week in a separate operation, this was later denied by a police spokesman.
Belgium started three days of mourning today after the bombings claimed the lives of 34 and left more than 250 injured in 79 minutes of rush hour carnage. The dead and injured have 40 different nationalities, including two Britons.
Despite a Government warning to stay at home thousands have gathered in the center of the city to light candles, leave flowers and write messages of hope on the ground in defiance of the terrorists who carried out the the worst terror attacks in Belgium’s history.
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.