He was arrested Friday in Brussels’ Laken district, but it is unclear whether he was suspected of involvement in the March 22 terror attacks that killed 32 people at Brussels Airport and a metro station.
Belgium’s federal prosecutor said today: “Numerous elements in the investigation have shown that the terrorist group initially had the intention to strike in France again”.
While Belgian investigators faltered initially, the core of the terror network that struck last month could now be in custody, after six people were arrested on Friday, Mr. Abrini confessed and charges were filed against Mr. Krayem.
Arrest warrant Abrini has been the subject of an worldwide arrest warrant since November 24th after he was captured in video footage along with Paris suspect Abdeslam at a petrol station on the motorway between Brussels and Paris two days before the November 13th Paris attacks.
Abrini, a 31-year-old Belgian of Moroccan origin, was charged with terrorist activities along with three other men on Saturday.
“The instruction judge specialised in terrorism has placed Mohamed Abrini under arrest in the file relating to the Brussels attacks”, said the prosecutor.
“He was confronted with the results of various expert assessments and admitted his presence”, said the federal prosecutor in a statement.
Mr Abrini was charged Saturday with being a lead member of a terror group and committing terrorist murders over the Paris attacks.
Abrini’s suspected role in the Paris attacks has never been made clear.
Abrini’s capture is nearly as important as that of Salah Abdeslam, the 10th man directly involved in the November Paris attacks and the only one who survived. However, the prosecutor did not provide further details about the “ongoing investigation”.
One of the suspects, identified by Belgian media by his full name, Osama Krayem, is believed linked to the subway attack.
Osama Kraiem is accused of being the man caught on CCTV briefly speaking to El Bakraoui’s brother Khalid before the latter detonated explosives on a Brussels metro train, killing 16.
The past couple of days’ developments represent a rare success for Belgian authorities, who have been repeatedly criticized for bungling the bombings investigation.
As of Friday, all publicly identified suspects were either in detention or dead, but Belgium remains on its second highest threat level, and Prime Minister Charles Michel said his government would remain alert.