Mohamed Abrini Admits to Being 'Man in Hat' in Brussels Airport Attack
By NBC News
The massive hunt for the "man in the hat" linked to the Brussels airport bombings appears to be over.
Belgium's federal prosecutor said that Paris attacks suspect Mohamed Abrini had confessed to being at the scene of the blasts in Brussels on March 22.
Speculation had been mounting since Abrini's arrest on Friday that he was the suspect pictured in surveillance video from the airport alongside two suicide bombers.
That video showed a man in a light-colored jacket and dark hat pushing a luggage cart loaded with a black bag at the airport.
Two other men pictured with the man in the hat — Najim Laachraoui andIbrahim El Bakraoui — blew themselves up in the attack, leaving Belgian authorities searching for the third suspect.
Police released more footage showing the so-called "man in white" or "man in the hat" on Thursday in an appeal for information as to his whereabouts, noting the suspect had ditched the light-colored jacket.
On Sunday, Belgium's federal prosecutor said that Abrini had "confessed his presence at the crime scene."
"He explained having thrown away his vest in a garbage bin and having sold his hat afterwards," the prosecutor added in an emailed statement.
The prosecutor's office earlier had confirmed Abrini has been charged with "terrorist murders" and participating in a terror group in relation to the Paris terror attacks last November.
However, it was not immediately clear if Abrini's alleged confession meant he would face further charges.
Abrini had been filmed on security footage at a gas station with Salah Abdeslam, one of the alleged Paris attackers, just two days before the terror spree in the French capital, which left 130 dead.
His apparent confession to being in the Brussels Airport adds another link to the attacks in Belgium and the Paris massacres.
In addition to the Abrini revelations, Belgium's prosecutor announced that three other men had been charged with terror offenses.
One of them — identified as Osama K — was allegedly present at the time of the bombing on the Brussels subway, according to the prosecutor. Two others are suspected of assisting Abrini and Osama K.
The announcement of the new charges came as 50 police officers were on the scene of an anti-terror operation in the Brussels suburb of Etterbeek, with roads closed off and nearby people evacuated.
Saturday, January 20 2018 6:08 PM EST2018-01-20 23:08:09 GMT
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