Skip to main content

tv   News  Al Jazeera  March 22, 2016 4:00am-4:31am EDT

4:00 am
returning to pick up where others have left off. >> there is a great concern there. a lot - one thing i have to say that has been particularly interesting is the way in which we noticed that on monday that the prosecutors gave very little information at their news conference. i have been following, really, the story of attacks against civil yarns in france, in particular, for more than a year, and we've always noticed that the french prosecutor gives a lot of detailed quality information during his briefings. on monday he said almost nothing. that there been a fear. there has been a criticism that leaps from police officers to journalists have given away details. for example, there was a leak, a fingerprint of salah abdeslam at an apartment in been found.
4:01 am
that leak forced the police to bring their operation to an end there. there were journalists who followed closely developments in brussels around we've been learning more in the belgian media about the family which allegedly hid salah abdeslam during at least part of the four months that he was a fugitive. a family in that district where salah abdeslam was apprehended. the family, according to belgian media, include a number of family members who actually went to fight in syria. so this gives you an indication of the close link people, families, young men from these districts in paris and in brussels, nor whatever reason,
4:02 am
attracted by the ideology of i.s.i.l., in the case of some who go there to fight and in the cases of others that don't go there to fight but bring the fight to their home cubs. this is a phenomenon that police are worried about and it is very difficult to control. there have been criticisms of the police. people asking questions, why did the take the belgian police four months to find salah abdeslam, he was under their nose, he was hiding only half a kilometer away from his family home. the response by security experts to that is this, the threat, is so widespread you would almost need several police officers follow each potential suspect and there could be thousands, in order to unveil the problem and that is not possible. police officers are having to make judgments and officials making judgments on can what to
4:03 am
pursue and what not to pursue. it is an inexact science the shots were fired before the explosions, and arabic was shouted as well before the two explosions. we don't know what was said before that. let me tell you what else i know. we're seeing sentence ich damage at the airport. ceiling tiles on the floor. i don't know if you've seen some images, the flums of smoke coming from the airport. so certainly big explosions. we're looking at live pictures of people outside the airport. many of them have got plank ets thrown arnldz them. i'm sure many are shocked. one person is dead and several injured. this happened 8am local time this morning, two large explosions. lots of people leaving the
4:04 am
airport. the area around it is increasingly under lock down. there's train stopped going to the airport. traffic stopped there. as you know from carrying the paris attack-- covering the paris attacks and the feel out from that, is the psychological impact that these attacks have on people where nothing ask sacrosanct, when you're having a meal, you can be attacked, attacked at the airport. very powerful. >> reporter: it is a really not only for people in brussels and paris, but also istanbul and ankara, the fact that nowhere is safe any more. an airport is under skrikt security. the fact that an attack could take place within an airport would, if anything, increase people's feelings of insecurity
4:05 am
and fear because this of all places is the kind of place that you would expect to be safe. even in a country like the united kingdom where police do not routinely carry firearms, but at airports you do see police were firearms present. if attackers can perpetrate a bombing at an airport, which is supposedly more secure facility than, say, a café or a shopping maul, then that will, obviously, increase people's feelings of insecurity thank you for that. we will leave you there. we have our correspondent in brussels. i know you're making your way to the airport. we're looking at live pictures coming from the airport. localities of people milling around and people being ushered around in blankets in a state of
4:06 am
shock and fear. what do you know about what has happened? >> reporter: more and more information is emerging. it is coming through the belgian media and through social media as well. we gather that the two explosions that we've seen, heard and felt, that one of them happened outside the airport and the second may have happened inside the departure lounge close to the american airlines desk which we mooef would have been very busy at that time in the morning. according to eyewitnesses there was a scene of panic. they are reporting the sight of many injured on the ground. police at this stage are confirming one death, although several media outlets are saying that number is much higher. the france info radio program
4:07 am
has been reporting at least 12 dead. of course, we can't independently verify that ourselves, but that is what we're hearing from a number of different sources. a rapidly developing scene at the airport. the airport itself is undergoing a lock down. all flights in and out have been suspended. rail links to the airport have been closed, and what we are seeing as we approach the airport is a tremendous amount of traffic which does suggest, of course, the police may have created a cordon around that scene describe the airport to us. how busy is it, where is it situated in relation to the city? >> reporter: the airport is in a suburb which is in the north-east of the belgian capital. it's a very well-connected
4:08 am
airport. of course, brussels politically is at the heart of europe. there are flights going international to the u.s., to lots of different locations in europe, asia and further afield. so particularly at this time of the morning when long haul flights would be taking off, there would be an awful lot of people in the airport at that particular time. since the paris attacks last november, the whole of the country, as well key installations like airports and train stations, have been on a heightened state of alert. there has been a combination of police and armed military especially drafted in to provide extra security in the wake of the paris attacks. the country remains on a heightened state you alert. they have been reduced a couple of months ago. there have been some concerns
4:09 am
after the arrest of salah abdeslam that more attacks might be possible. it is, of course, too early to link the two, but it has been on people's mind in the last couple of days. people have been asking questions about what it means for one key suspect to be arrested, but does it, then, of course, warrant concerns and worries about other people, other cells being activated in the wake of that key arrest. questions of the security teams are going to be asking and investigating over these coming crucial hours let's leave it there for a moment. we're talking about the lock-down around the airport. we're hearing, as you would imagine, that all flights to and from the airport are being cancelled. those making their way there have been diverted. on two explosions have ripped
4:10 am
through the departure area at the airport in brussels. some witnesses say that they heard shops before these explosions. way haven't had that confirmed yet. one person has been confirmed dead and several others injured. belgian media say the airport is being evacuated. flights have been stopped and trains to the area are also not allowed. our correspondent was talking about now brussels is at the center of europe. let's bring in jacky rowland. y have neve, with belgium being at the center of the europe, it makes it an easy place for fighters to gain access to other countries. that's one of the concerns of security services.
4:11 am
we've lost both correspondents. in the last hour or so we have heard of two explosions at an airport in brussels, close to the suburbs there, very busy airport, feeding much of europe. we're hearing at this stage that one person has been confirmed dead and that many more are injured in the departures lounge. two explosions. apparently shots were fired beforehand, but we can't confirm that yet. explosions were so large that ceilings have fallen down and glass has been shattered. these are live pictures coming to us from the airport. it is under lock down. people are being moved away. that is a rather subdued scene and that happens when something
4:12 am
horrific has happened. look at the picture there. you can see the plumes of smoke. that was shortly after the explosion. you can see people running away from the airport. it is april country under high alert. our correspondent was saying possibly not at the highest alert that we've seen since the paris attacks that it was proven that there were links between the attackers in paris and those in belgium, that many of them lived there and had traineded there. any more details from you, jacky? jacky, can you hear me? have you heard anything more about what has been going down? we're getting more details about witnesses, what they've experienced. apparently somebody was shouting
4:13 am
in arabic. we don't have that confirmed yesterday. >> reporter: no. at this end we haven't heard any more. it's a different country. all i can say is that i personally have witnessed the increased insecurity monitoring movements of people between brussels and france. when i returned, i was in brussels a few days ago when salah abdeslam was apprehended. when i returned to france late on saturday, we saw that border controls had been reintroduced. there were police on the station platform checking identity cards, passports of travels coming off the train from brussels to paris. police are very, very aware of the paris-brussels access in planning, preparing and implementing the paris attacks of november 13. they've also acknowledged that
4:14 am
the network of people involved in preparing the paris attacks was much bigger than originally believed, and that the investigation was far from over and there might have an by temptation to think that the arrest of salah abdeslam well that was it, the paris picture had finished but not that was not it. another man, who is accused of travelling through the night after the paris attacks, to go from brussels to paris, pick up salah abdeslam and drive him back to brussels. another man, being actively searched by police, was named only on monday. he is accused of being involved in coordinating the attacks from brussels. there is telecommunications,
4:15 am
fronk intelligence, suggesting that telephone calls were made constantly between paris and brussels during that night from telephones that were used once and then thrown away. another sign. long and careful preparation that was put into place before the attacks happened. bear in mind you have to named suspects plus any other number of suspects that the police don't know about. it is an indication of just how wide the web potentially is and it's huge and one might say an impossible task facing the police intelligence i will talk to you in a moment. the airport is located north-east of brussels. it is just around 12 kilometers
4:16 am
outside the city center. airport authorities are on social media asking the public to avoid the area and the interior minister has just raised the terror levels to the maximum level in wake of these explosions. let's brif in neve barker. i believe you've arrived at the airport. talk us through what you see. >> that's right. we've just received at the prim der of the airport-- perimeter of the airport. there is a lot of police activity here. it's very important right now for police to divert people away fra the scene, people who are arriving and see a man p looking confused and dazed. there's localities of ambulances here as well. i can see and thick with smoke towards the terminal building.
4:17 am
you will probably here the sound of sirens in the background. this is a very busy and cape on theic scene of the police. all of this, of course, as we hear more and more information coming out about what may have happened inside the terminal itself, reports on belgian media and social media. one in the departure lounge, which would have been busy that time of the morning, and another blast outside. eyewitnesses saying that many people were running from the scene, a lot of panic and pandemonium and a lornlg number of injured people people must be asking the question of how this could possibly happen. there have been warnings recently of possible attacks in other parts of europe, possibly over there.
4:18 am
how this could happen at a busy airport when security services are on high alert. >> reporter: that's right. we believe the forces have been put back on the highest alert. we have to remember a couple of months ago the belgium authorities decided to down grade it one notch to level 3 as opposed to level 4, and, of course, some questions will already be asked about why they felt that that was hospital to be did you know, of course, in the wake of what has happened in the last couple of days with salah abdeslam. police have indicated that a lot of work needs to be done, both the french and businessmen sdwrum prosecutors have suggested that the network of possible attackers is very wide, it's very browed, and that even if police are able to close down a base in belgium or in paris,
4:19 am
then there is always the potential of another activated to take its place. it is unclear whether this explosion here is directly linked to the ongoing investigation in the wake of the paris attacks last year. it is very much on the forefront of people's mind, considering the large casualty toll that we're hearing. it looks more and more likely that this was a planned attack there is a comment from the prime minister. we are following the situation minute by minute. our absolute priority will be given to the victims and the people present at the airport. any idea at this stage who the victims are and what has been done to make sure that the information gets out to those who need to know this sort of thing? >> reporter: all we know so far is coming from eyewitnesses at
4:20 am
the scene who describes a large number of injured people lying on the ground. we can only assume that this refers to civilians, it refers to people who are at the air at the time. we hear an ambulance driving past, a couple of ambulances, suggesting, of course, that there are serious injured people that need immediate treatment. there are outlets here that are covering this. official fz are always very quick to cover the media. since the paris attacks last november the belgian authorities have been very consistent in how they share information and how they police key installations as well.
4:21 am
the question is how much can you really do. how can you predict what ask essentially the unpredickable. you can put in many resources in, but already over the course of the weekend both belgian and french authorities have been saying that much more work needs to be done. the arrest of salah abdeslam is only the first link, that there are other threats and challenges in the road ahead it's not just belgian and branch. these fighters who go off to syria and elsewhere to get trained have access to so many areas in french. what you said earlier bears relevance to this. the fact that it is such an important airport at the center of europe >> reporter: it is. it is the heart of the european area. you have people from automatic
4:22 am
over the world rooig here in brussels-- all over the world arriving here in brussels. there is a lot of traffic passing through this airport. it is a huge symbolic important as well because of the strategic place within europe. we're just being asked to move aw away. it is important for brussels in the city, the airport. many people will be asking how is it possible that in a major political hub at the heart of europe that these kind of strengths can take place, that people live under fear of attack on a regular basis. it is hugely worrying, of
4:23 am
course, that people here, but as you mentioned, further afield as well, both france and belgium, of course, share a common link in the wake of the paris attacks, but it goes further than that. it goes to germany. as far away as hundred garry-- hungary where some may have driven bringing supplies, possibly bringing fighters to western europe. so a lot of links are being made across europe, but, of course, brussels very much now is at the heart of major development around this case thank you. i need to bring something to you. we are hearing of another explosion. this time at the brussels metro station. that is close to e.u. institutions. so another explosion at the brussels metro station. so it seems, it if this is confirmed rng if this has
4:24 am
happened, that these are coordinated attacks happening around the city. this is according to r2bif. that will take it to three explosions in a matter of hours in hours. we don't know if anybody has been hurt there, but i should imagine that it would be bus dwr and right in the heart. soft target there again as well. an american couple on their way to liberia to thailand spoke of their experience at the airport. >> we felt like an explosion, a wave. >> we just looked at each other and let's go this way. we just wanted to get away from it. we saw people running and crying we are hearing of yet another explosion. this time at the brussels metro station close to e.u.
4:25 am
institutions. this comes as we're seeing a massive lock down around the airport after two explosions were witnessed. we know at this stage that one person has died. we're looking at the latest pictures coming from the airport there and you can see the smoke plumes rising from the building. several people have been injured. we are hearing in the departures lounge. one of the witnesses also said that they heard shots. that hasn't been confirmed, but what we know is two explosions have ripped through the departure area in brussels airport. one has been confirmed dead, several others injured. flights have been stopped and trains to the area are also not allowed. let me show you where the airport is. it's located north-east of brussels and in a suburb there.
4:26 am
quite built up area. there's lots of action there. airport authorities on social media are asking the public to avoid the area. look at that. people are running away. people doing the question how could this happen in the heart of political europe, especially considering that there had been warnings of imminent attacks, considering the ongoing investigation into the attacks in paris in november. these are live pictures coming from the airport. we're not sure if these are lies. these are probably the latest pictures coming from the airport. from from one of the garages there we can see people are stream ago way. hundreds of people. the airport is being evacuated. trains to and from the airport have been stopped. traffic to and from the airport have been stopped and flights
4:27 am
have been diverted, all of those heading off to belgium. we don't know who is behind this at this stage. somebody said one of the witnesses that shots were fired, that arabic was spoken. that hasn't been confirmed yet. witnesses have also been talking about glass being shalt erred as these explosions occurred. massive explosions, and glass coming from ceilings faumg down. we don't know what sort of injuries people have suffered. -- falling down. we can only speculate. i will bring in martin reardon now. a former f.b.i. agent. good to have you with us. what do you think has happened? what's going down? >> given the counter terrorism operations in the last several days, one or two things is going
4:28 am
to happen with the things. they're going to-- with the cells. they're going to lay low. they don't know what the authorities will be doing next. they don't want to be compromised. if they had something ahead, then they've bumped it up. it could have been the indication here. the two explosions this morning, reports that there may have have been other ieds recovered at the airport that did not detonate. this would have been planned. not necessarily complex, but it would have been planned. where this happened, this is the nonsecure part of the airport. you don't go through screening. there could be dogs or patrols, but there isn't a degree of checks that go in before people enter. so there will be concerns all over europe about some of the
4:29 am
things happen it could have been a much bigger attack >> if there were other devices, absolutely we were hearing eyewitness reports coming from the station of people leaving the station with blood on their faces. we don't know what is behind that or if, indeed, there has been another attack there because we are hearing of an explosion at brussels's metro station. molembeek, those behind the attacks had links there. do we have any idea how many people there are who have returned from training in syria who could be plotting future tacks? >> exactly. this came out months ago. the best estimates is on average with the 30 or so thousand foreign fighters that have travelled to and from iraq and
4:30 am
syria for the last four years. about a quarter have returned to their home countries, where you talk about many countries. about a quarter of the foreign fighters have returned to their home countries. france and belgium have a significant number of foreign fighters. you're looking at about the quarter that came back, that's a big problem. more so because they don't know who those fighters are necessarily let me update you with news coming from the belgian broadcaster. they are citing hospital sources saying up to ten people are dead and 30 have been wounded after these explosions. that's coming from the belgian broadcaster rtbf. if you could speculate, and i know it's still early days and all we've seen are massive plumes, what do you think could have been used