A Tunisian national identified in reports as Abdesalem Lassoued is suspected of having shot and killed two people whiling injuring a third in Brussels on Monday evening, just as the EURO qualifier match between Belgium and Sweden was about to kick off.
The suspected assailant used an automatic rifle to carry out his attack before fleeing the scene on a scooter.
Hours later, following a major manhunt in Brussels, Belgian police officers located the suspect and shot him outside a cafe in the Schaerbeek area.
Lassoued, aged 45, was taken to hospital by paramedics but died after reportedly suffering chest wounds.
The man had claimed responsibility for the attack in a video he filmed and shared on social media, in which he also pledged to be “from the Islamic State”.
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In the clip, the Tunisian said his name was Abdesalem Al Guilani and claimed to have “killed three Swedes so far” as a “revenge in the name of Muslims”.
A number of details about the suspect’s life have emerged in the hours following his death.
The Tunisian national reportedly reached the European continent in 2011, when he arrived on Italy’s Lampedusa island.
He was later moved to Sweden, from where he was deported following a spell in prison, according to the Swedish migration agency.
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The suspect is believed to have then returned to Italy, and in 2016 police in the city of Bologna identified him as a “radicalised subject”, who was also monitored by intelligence services.
Lassoued then moved to Belgium, where in 2019 he saw his asylum request denied.
The Belgian Justice Minister, Vincent Van Quickenborne, said the suspect was “on the radar of the security services”.
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Alexander De Croo, the Prime Minister of Belgium, said the person who carried out the terror attack was “probably a lone wolf”.
Lassoued’s self-professed links to ISIS and his claim to be “a fighter for Allah” sparked fears over a potential new wave of radicalisation triggered by the war between Israel and Hamas, which exploded on October 7 after the terror group launched an unprecedented attack on civilians.
While the Belgian prosecutor’s office initially said there was no evidence this attack in Brussels was linked to the conflict, on Tuesday it said to have later “established that he has shared a number of expressions of support for the Palestinian people on his social media”, prompting authorities to explore such a connection.
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