‘Man in the Hat’ Confesses
BRUSSELS (AP) — After nearly three weeks of frantic searching, Belgian authorities announced Saturday they had arrested and identified the elusive "man in the hat" spotted alongside two suicide bombers who blew themselves up at Brussels Airport on March 22.
In a terse statement, the Federal Prosecution Office said recently arrested terror suspect Mohamed Abrini had confessed to being the vest- and hat-wearing man whose video image had been widely circulated by authorities. The statement said Abrini "confessed his presence at the crime scene" after being confronted by investigators.
Abrini was arrested Friday in a Brussels police raid. He was one of four suspects charged Saturday with "participating in terrorist acts" linked to the deadly Brussels suicide bombings that killed 32 people and wounded 270 others.
The prosecutors' office said Abrini threw away his vest in a garbage bin and sold his hat after the bombings.
The 31-year-old Belgian-Moroccan petty criminal had been suspected of being involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks but his precise role was unclear.
The revelation that a Paris attacks suspect escorted two of the Brussels bombers to their deaths at the city's airport is the strongest sign yet that the Islamic State attackers who brought mayhem to both European cities — killing a total of 162 people — were intimately linked.