After Brussels Attacks, IS Video Calls For Jihad

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Damascus: The Islamic State jihadist group released a video on social media on Thursday calling on its followers to claim victory and wage jihad after deadly blasts in Brussels this week that the group said it had carried out.

In the footage, Islamic State (ISIS) noted that Belgium was part of the coalition fighting militants in the Middle East. It featured the training of Belgian militants suspected in the November 13 shooting and suicide bombing rampage by Islamic State that killed 130 people in Paris.

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Belgian police were on Thursday hunting for a third man filmed with two Islamic State suicide bombers at Brussels airport as evidence piled up that the same jihadist network was involved in the deadly Paris attacks last November.

With pressure mounting on Europe to improve cooperation against terrorism, EU interior and justice ministers were to hold emergency talks on a joint response to Tuesday’s bombings in Brussels, which killed at least 31 people and injured hundreds.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls led calls for a “strong European response”, but officials say many states, including France, withhold their most cherished data despite a mantra of willingness to share intelligence.

Earlier on Thursday, Belgian prosecutors confirmed they issued an international arrest warrant in December for one of two brothers blamed for deadly bomb blasts in Brussels this week because he was wanted in connection with last year’s Paris attacks.

Khalid El Bakraoui, 27, blew himself up on a crowded rush hour train in Brussels on Tuesday, prosecutors have said.

They confirmed in a statement on Thursday that he was previously suspected of using a false identity to rent a property in the Belgian city of Charleroi, which was used as a safe house by members of an Islamist cell that carried out the November Paris attacks.

Belgian police searched the property on December 9 and issued an international arrest warrant for Bakraoui on December 11. His details and photo appear on a list of wanted people on the website of Interpol.

Prosecutors say his brother Ibrahim, 29, had been one of two men who blew themselves up at Brussels airport in the coordinated attacks on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Belgium’s interior and justice ministers offered to resign on Thursday over the failure to track an Islamic State jihadist expelled by Turkey last year who blew himself up at Brussels airport on Tuesday.

Interior minister Jan Jambon said Prime Minister Charles Michel had asked him to stay on — “In time of war, you cannot leave the field,” Jambon told VTM television.

Justice minister Koen Geens also offered to go but would stay on, a ministry spokesperson said.

Belgian authorities are facing embarrassment after Turkey said on Wednesday that last year Ankara expelled back to Europe Ibrahim El Bakraoui, one of the suicide bombers who carried out the attacks on Tuesday, and warned Belgium he was a militant.

While other militant suspects have not been held on the grounds of lack of evidence, Bakraoui was on parole and barely half-way through a 9-year sentence for armed robbery.

“You can ask how it came about that someone was let out so early and that we missed the chance to seize him when he was in Turkey. I understand the questions,” Jambon said. “In the circumstances, it was right to take political responsibility.”

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