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Brussels bombers had plans to hit nuclear plants: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This photo taken on August 20, 2014 shows a nuclear power plant in Tihange, Belgium. (Photo by AFP)

A Belgian newspaper says bombers in Brussels attacks were originally considering to hit nuclear power stations, but the earlier arrest of the prime suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks may have forced them to change plans.

"There is no doubt that they rushed their operations because they felt under pressure," Dernier Heure quoted an unidentified police source as saying.  

"Even if one couldn't prevent these attacks, one can say that their magnitude could have been much bigger if the terrorists had been able to implement their original plan and not opted for easier targets."

The report said brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, who blew themselves up in the Brussels bombings, had secretly planted cameras to film the daily routine of Belgium's nuclear program chief.

The 10-hour video from a camera hidden in front of the nuclear official's house was found in December during a police raid in the apartment of Mohammed Bakkali, a suspect linked to the Paris attacks.

After analyzing the video, investigators concluded that the target of terrorists was to “jeopardize national security like never before,” the paper said.

Clues found in the flat finally led the police to the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, an accomplice to Brussels bombers and prime surviving suspect involved in the Paris massacre.

The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group claimed the responsibility for the Brussels attacks.

Salah Abdeslam is an accomplice to the March 22, 2016 Brussels bombers and prime surviving suspect involved in the 2015 Paris massacre. (Photo on europe1.fr)

Evidence obtained by authorities shows that the same terrorist cell was behind the Paris attacks in November last year that killed more than 130 people and this week’s Brussels bombings, which claimed the lives of 34 people, the paper said.

Meanwhile, top Belgian officials of justice and interior ministry acknowledged failures in disciplinary measures prior to the Brussels bombings.

They said they should have acted on Turkey’s alert about a convicted Belgian criminal briefly arrested last year on suspicion of terrorist activity. The suspect was Ibrahim el-Bakraoui.

They amounted to the first high-level acknowledgment that European officials could have done more to avert the bombings.

The acknowledgement came amid other recriminations in the European Union about recurrent failures among its national police forces and intelligence services.

Europe is on high alert following the deadly Brussels attacks.

Vulnerability of German nuclear plants

According to a new research study conducted at the German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND), Germany’s nuclear power plants are insufficiently protected against potential terror attacks.

“The interim [nuclear waste] storages lack protection against aircraft crashes and dangers posed by terrorists,” the study said, adding that “there are no appropriate accident management plans.”

The research indicated that a fall of an aircraft rigged with explosives on a nuclear plant could lead to a “massive release of radiation,” as nuclear facilities in Germany are not designed to withstand explosions of such scale.

Eight nuclear plants are now operational in Germany.

A number of intelligence officials have said Daesh has a network of semi-autonomous interlocking terror cells comprised of more than 400 Takfiri terrorists trained and prepared to target European cities.


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