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23-year-old Swede now also suspected in Paris attacks

Updated onsdag 20 april 2016 kl 17.03
Published onsdag 20 april 2016 kl 10.08
Suspect's DNA in hiding places used by Paris attackers
(0:32 min)
Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu / AP / TT
A police officer takes cover behind a car while a rescue worker runs outside the Bataclan in Paris, France on November 13, 2015. More than 120 people were killed in the terrorism attacks that struck Paris. Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu / AP / TT

The 23-year-old alleged to have accompanied the suicide bomber in the Maelbeek subway station is now also suspected of involvement in the attacks in Paris last November according to a Belgian prosecutor.

Traces of the suspect's DNA have turned up in nearly all of the hiding places that were used by terrorists who were part of the attacks in both Paris and Brussels, according to VRT.

A federal prosecutor in Belgium confirmed the authority's suspicions in a written statement Wednesday. The man is being charged with terrorist murder and participation in acts of terrorism.

The Swedish foreign ministry could not comment on the new information about the suspect's involvement in the Paris attacks because he had not sought consular help, said Annika Ekberg with the Ministry's press department speaking with news agency TT.

Terrorism researcher Hans Brun told TT that it is not surprising that the suspect in the Brussels subway attack has now also been linked to the attacks in Paris.

"Considering what we know of the others who were involved . . . it's completely plausible that [this man] was also involved," said Brun.

It is unclear how the 23-year-old Swede was radicalized, according to terrorism researcher Magnus Ranstorp.

"There were not many indications when he was at home in Sweden. He must have gotten a lot of training as preparation for these attacks," said Ranstorp. Others who have had active roles in the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels have, according to Ranstorp, appeared in execution videos, which raises questions about where and when the 23-year-old received his training.

"The question is who it was who has radicalized him at home and channeled him to Syria," said Ranstorp, speculating that the Swedish intelligence agency, Säpo, is hunting for information about whether people around the suspect may also have traveled to Syria. SVT News has sought for a comment from Säpo.

The man was arrested on April 8 suspected of having followed suicide bomber, Khalid El Bakraoui, into the Maelbeek subway station in Brussels on March 22. In police interrogations the suspect is said to have admitted that he had intended to blow himself up in the subway but that he changed his mind and abandoned his bag, which was allegedly filled with explosives. Het Nieuwsblad reports that the location of the bag and the suspect's intended target are still unknown.

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