Prosecutors say Khalid Zerkani, 42, dubbed “Belgium’s biggest ever jihadi recruiter”, had links with Najim Laachraoui, whose DNA on Wednesday betrayed him as the second suicide bomber of the Brussels airport attack – pictured pushing a trolley with one black glove on shortly before the devastating blasts.
Police suspect Laahchraoui of being the bomb maker in both Brussels and Paris. Belgian authorities say Laachraoui travelled to Syria in 2013 to train and recruit other foreign fighters before slipping back into Europe among a wave of migrants last autumn.
Belgian authorities arrested Zerkani in February 2014 and charged him with being a leader of a terrorist operation.
Laachraoui, who died aged 24, reportedly came under Zerkani’s influence while growing up in the northeastern Brussels suburb of Schaerbeek, which the world discovered this week as a hotbed of violent Islamism, along with nearby Molenbeek.