BRUSSELS: Belgian prosecutors on Thursday launched a fresh appeal for help in finding the suspected surviving attacker in last month’s Brussels airport bombings, releasing a video of the escape route taken by the so-called “man in the hat.”
Police have been desperately searching for the third suspect ever since he was seen on CCTV next to the two suicide bombers who blew themselves up at the airport in coordinated attacks that also struck a Brussels metro station. A total of 32 people died.
The newly released police video shows the man, wearing a dark hat and a light-colored jacket, fleeing the airport’s departure hall after the bombs went off at 7:58 a.m. on March 22.
CCTV footage shows him continuing his route on foot towards central Brussels where surveillance cameras lose track of him at 9:50 a.m.
Along the way, the fugitive discards his jacket and at one point appears to be on the phone.
“We especially appeal to anyone who might have filmed or think they have photographed the suspect,” spokesman Eric Van der Sypt told a press conference to present the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eso1zW-eRqg).
Investigators are urgently looking for the jacket, described in the statement accompanying the video as light “with a hood which is dark inside”.
“Should this jacket be found, this might give invaluable information to the investigators.”
Potential witnesses are asked to contact the police using a designated phone number and email address.
Last week police asked all residents and business owners in the Brussels region who have external surveillance cameras not to delete any footage from March 15 onwards.
Belgian authorities have been criticized for not doing enough to tackle the rise in homegrown extremism, as close links have emerged between the Brussels attackers and those behind the Paris terror assaults in November, which left 130 dead.
Both attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group.
A committee of French lawmakers probing the two major terror strikes in Paris last year met in Brussels with Belgian and European counter-terrorism officials on Thursday.
Georges Fenech, who presides over the group, told a press conference that “it is important to make progress on cooperation” between France and Belgium, especially on intelligence sharing and criminal law policy.