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EU ministers meet to discuss security in wake of Brussels terror attacks

Belgian authorities are under immense pressure over the attacks and their apparent inability to stop domestic terrorist networks.

Belgium Attacks Source: Associated Press

EU JUSTICE AND interior ministers will convene today in Brussels for an emergency meeting to work out a plan to address the threat posed by jihadists to Europe and the application of EU anti-terrorism laws across the bloc.

Leaders in Europe have reacted with outrage to the twin bombings, vowing to defend democracy and combat terrorism “with all means necessary”.

Belgium authorities are under immense pressure over their apparent inability to smash domestic extremist networks, after it emerged that the Paris attacks were largely planned from the country.

Belgium is also Europe’s top exporter of jihadist fighters to Syria per capita.

Belgian authorities had already been hunting Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui who had carried out attacks at Zaventem airport and Maalbeek metro station, over their links to Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam.

They also issued a wanted notice for bomb-making expert Najim Laachraoui, who was identified by police sources as the second airport bomber, on Monday, the day before the attacks.

Officials said he had travelled to Hungary with Abdeslam last year and that his DNA was found on explosives linked to the Paris rampage.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had arrested one of the Brussels attackers last year and deported him to the Netherlands. A senior Turkish official later confirmed that it was Ibrahim El Bakraoui.

“Despite our warnings that this person was a foreign terrorist fighter, the Belgian authorities could not identify a link to terrorism,” Erdogan said.

Belgium’s Justice Minister Koen Geens denied however that the 30-year-old Belgian citizen had been flagged as a possible terrorist.

“At that time, he was not known here for terrorism,” Geens told VRT television. “He was a common law criminal out on parole.”

- © AFP, 2016

Read: Third suspected Brussels attacker on the run after ‘leaving biggest bomb’ in airport

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