One of the Brussels terrorists worked briefly as a cleaner at the European Union parliament and had full access to every office, it has been revealed.
Authorities at the European Parliament announced on Wednesday that one of the terrorists responsible for the attacks in Brussels that saw 35 killed and over 200 injured worked as a cleaned at the European Parliament building.
A spokesman for the parliament said that the terrorist had been employed by the cleaning company who contracts out to keep the building tidy. The terrorist was identified as Najim Laachraoui and the spokesman said that the cleaning agency had done its due diligence and that Laachraoui, who would later become a terrorist, exhibited a clean criminal record reports Germany’s Bild.
The spokesman added, “As a student, he held a summer holiday job cleaning at the parliament for one month in 2009 and one month in 2010,” and played down the connection saying, “those were the only instances he worked at the parliament.”
According to Austrian press the cleaners who work at the parliament have access to every room in the building, including the offices of MEPs. The news raises concerns over the potential security risks, including for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who are critical of radical Islam.
While the two suicide bombers from the attacks, Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim El Bakraoui, are both dead, the third man that airport security cameras caught alongside them is still missing and as of yet unidentified.
The third man is presumed on the run, just as Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam was following the Paris attacks.
Abdeslam was eventually found in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek and captured after Belgian police met with resistance from locals. Many experts believe his capture was the catalyst for the Brussels terror attacks. Abdeslam was able to evade police for months while it is suspected that residents of Molenbeek hid him from authorities.
Last week Belgian media reported that at least 50 ISIS sympathisers were working at the Brussels airport where part of the attacks took place. They were working in sensitive areas like baggage handling, where the potential for them to smuggle arms or even explosives onto airplanes has led Belgian authorities to rethink their strategy in dealing with terrorism. A lack of action, experts fear, may lead to a total breakdown in security.
The work of the Belgian security services has come under scrutiny by sections of the Belgian community in the wake of the attacks. the Prime Minister from the German speaking community of Belgium, Oliver Paasch, said that German and Belgian police, intelligence services, judicial branches and others were simply not doing enough to properly coordinate and cooperate in fighting terrorism and dealing with shared security threats.
Paasch also slammed the lack of will of the Belgian government to fully understand the scale of the problem that places like Molenbeek create. He said that much more work needs to be done to ensure that integration occurs and that European values are predominant in every community in Belgium and Germany rather than allow potential parallel societies to emerge.