2016 Brussels attacks: intelligence officers to testify on Monday

On Monday, the trial into the 22 March Brussels terrorist attack will hear from the heads of Belgian State Security and the BIM commission, which oversees special intelligence methods.

Their testimonies were initially scheduled for the end of February, immediately after the presentation of the investigation into the attacks by the investigating judges and investigators. However, this was cancelled and a new date was sought.

In addition to State Security, Belgium's civilian secret service, the BIM Commission, will also testify. The administrative commission, which is in charge of supervising the specific and exceptional methods of data collection by the intelligence and security services, was set up in 2010 to advise on the application of standard methods, such as searches of electronic communications and surveillance techniques, and exceptional methods, such as wiretapping and searches of bank accounts.

The heads of the Coordination Office for Threat Assessment and the Military Intelligence Service are also due to testify.

Intercepted conversations

The intercepted conversations of several defendants, which have already caused controversy, are also likely to be discussed. These include conversations between Mohamed Abrini and Mehdi Nemmouche, the perpetrator of the 2014 attack on the Jewish Museum in which four people were killed, and between Abrini and Bilal El Makhoukhi.

The talks confirmed that Abu Imrane, El Makhoukhi's alias, was hiding weapons for another attack. El Makhoukhi only confirmed in June last year that he had hidden the weapons, without saying where. The defence said these conversations dated back to 2016 but had not been included in the file until 2019. The prosecution argued that this was in the interest of intelligence, given the untraceable nature of the weapons.

In the afternoon, the court will hear testimony about the rental of an apartment in Avenue des Casernes in Etterbeek, which Smail Farisi is accused of subletting to suicide bomber Ibrahim El Bakraoui. His brother Khalid El Bakraoui left the apartment on 22 March with the accused Osama Krayem with a backpack containing a bomb in the direction of Petillon metro station. Krayem turned right, and El Bakraoui detonated his bomb in Maelbeek.


Mohamed Abrini, Osama Krayem, lawyer Delphine Paci and Salah Abdeslam at the trial of the attacks of 22 March 2016, on Wednesday 5 April 2023 © BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ


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