Two brothers have been identified as suicide bombers in the deadly attack in Brussels that killed 31 people Tuesday, according to Belgian authorities.
Brahim El-Bakhraoui was identified as one of two suspected suicide bombers who blew themselves up in Brussels’ Zaventem airport. His brother, Khalid, is believed to be the suicide bomber who detonated his device in a Brussels subway station a little more than an hour later, Brussels prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said. At least 31 people were killed and more than 200 people injured in total.
Khalid El-Bakhraoui had a criminal record and was known to police, but not for terrorism-related activity, Van Leeuw said.
Two other suspects, both spotted in surveillance footage in the Zaventem airport on either side of Brahim El-Bakraoui, have yet to be identified. Belgian authorities previously said that one of the men, dressed in dark clothes like the man identified today as Brahim, was the other suicide bomber in the aiport. Police are still racing to find and capture the man in white. European officials had told ABC News they believed the man in white had been arrested earlier today, but Van Leeuw said later he was still on the run.
Experts who analyzed the surveillance footage released by police said that it appeared the so-called man in white may have been a “handler” for the two suicide bombers.
“You have him dressed a little differently, and you have him wearing a hat and you have him wearing glasses… It is enough that it causes it to be harder to identify the person,” said former FBI New York counter-terrorism chief Rich Frankel, now an ABC News consultant. “He could be the person who brings them to the airport. He could be the individual who makes sure they actually carry out the attack, or if they are not able to carry out the terrorist attack, he’s able to spirit them away or advise his terrorist cell that it did not take place.”
A former military intelligence analyst agreed, telling ABC News the third man could have been around to “see the [attack] through” and wore a disguise in order to escape later. The suspected bombers, he said, “don’t carry the same concern – who cares if their identity is blown?”
In one curious detail, it appears that the two men identified by authorities as the suspected suicide bombers were each wearing a single black glove on their left hands. Frankel said it’s possible they needed the gloves to handle live wires or make other last-minute preparations for the bombs. There’s also the possibility that the men were hiding something in the gloves themselves, Frankel said, “and that’s the reason to cover those strings or those wires – so that if [otherwise] law enforcement or a civilian saw, they might raise the alarm.”
An ISIS-affiliated website reported Tuesday that the terror group claimed responsibility for the attacks, claiming its “fighters” carried out the bombings against “the Belgian capital of Brussels, a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State.”