Turkey’s president Recep Erdogan said in a press conference on Wednesday that one of the Brussels attacks suspects had been caught and deported to Belgium in June 2015, but that the Belgian government ignored Turkey’s warnings about the man until it was too late.
”The Belgian embassy was notified on July 14, 2015 about the deportation of the attacker, who was later released in Belgium” Erdoğan said, according to the Turkish daily newspaper Daily Sabah.
Ibrahim El Bakraoui and his brother, Khalid, were named as suicide bombers in the attacks by the Belgian police on Wednesday morning. Erdogan did not specify which attacker Turkey had deported to Belgium.
Ibrahim is thought to have detonated his explosives at the airport, killing at least 10 people, while his brother is thought to be responsible for the suicide attack at the metro station that killed 20 others.
The police have not yet identified their third suspect — the man wearing a light jacket in a photo released by Belgian authorities — but say he is still on the run. His bag apparently contained the largest of the three explosives that were brought to the airport. That explosive did not go off with the other two and was detonated in a controlled explosion by the police.
Reports emerged earlier Wednesday morning that the man in the hat had been captured alive, but those reports turned out to be inaccurate. A massive manhunt is underway for that suspect and several other people who are possibly linked to the attacks, prosecutors said.