BRUSSELS (CBSNewYork/AP) — As the international manhunt continued Wednesday for a man pictured at the Brussels airport with two suicide bombers, the The Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon that the Islamic State has dispatched hundreds of fighters trained to attack in Europe.
There are also growing suggestions that the bombings of the Brussels airport and subway were the work of the same Islamic State cell that attacked Paris last year.
Several people who may be linked to the Brussels attacks were still on the loose and the country’s threat alert remained at its highest level, meaning there was danger of an imminent attack, said Paul Van Tigchelt, head of Belgium’s terrorism threat body. The attacks killed 34 people, including three suicide bombers, and injured 270 others, authorities said.
Video released late Wednesday showed the moments after the bombing. The video, taken by a taxi driver, captured the screams of many who were trapped in the terminal and showed survivors who tried to help those who were hurt outside.
Belgian Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw identified two of the Brussels attackers as brothers — Ibrahim El Bakraoui, a suicide bomber at the airport, and Khalid El Bakraoui, who targeted the subway.
Investigators raided the Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek after the attacks and found a computer in a trash can on the street including a note from Ibrahim El Bakraoui saying he felt increasingly unsafe and feared landing in prison.
During a raid of the apartment where the brothers had stayed, investigators also found 15 kilograms of TATP explosives, nails, and other material for making explosives, the prosecutor said.
Van Leeuw said authorities do not know the identities of two other people pictured with Ibrahim El Bakraoui in a surveillance photo from the airport that police are circulating.
Two were suicide bombers, the prosecutor said. The other was a man in a white jacket and black cap who fled before the bombs went off, leaving behind a bag full of explosives, authorities said. That bag later blew up, but no one was injured.
Belgian state broadcaster RTBF, citing sources it did not identify, said Khalid El Bakraoui had rented an apartment that was raided last week in an operation that led authorities to top Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam.
Police sources identified the second airport bomber as Najim Laachraoui, who they said blew himself up in the airport attack.
Belgian newspaper DH initially reported he might be the man in the white jacket at the Brussels airport, but later removed that report from its website.
Earlier Wednesday, Belgian media outlets also reported police had taken Laachraoui into custody, CBS News reported.
But officials never confirmed the reports and the media outlets later said a man arrested Wednesday had not yet been identified. Later, Belgian authorities indicated the person who was arrested was not Laachraoui, CBS News reported.
Laachraoui is believed to have made the suicide vests used in the Paris attacks, a French police official told The Associated Press, adding that Laachraoui’s DNA was found on all of the vests as well as in a Brussels apartment where they were made. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.
The Islamic State group, which was behind the Paris attacks, has also claimed responsibility for the Brussels bombings.
Abdeslam was arrested Friday in the Brussels neighborhood where he grew up, a rough place with links to several of the attackers who targeted a Paris stadium, rock concert and cafes on Nov. 13. Those attacks killed 130 people and terrified Europe.
French and Belgian authorities have said in recent days that the network behind the Paris attacks was much larger than initially thought and developments this week suggest the same group could have staged both the Paris and Brussels attacks.
Belgium’s justice minister said Wednesday that the country will remain at its highest terrorism threat level until further notice. That level means there’s a threat of an “imminent” attack.
The airport and several Brussels metro stations remained closed Wednesday. Security forces stood guard around the neighborhood housing the headquarters of European Union institutions, as nervous Brussels residents began returning to school and work under a misty rain.
As befits an international city like Brussels, the foreign minister said the dead collectively held at least 40 nationalities.
“It’s a war that terrorism has declared not only on France and on Europe, but on the world,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Wednesday on Europe-1 radio. Valls, who planned to visit Brussels later Wednesday, urged tougher controls of the EU’s external borders.
“We must be able to face the extension of radical Islamism — that spreads in some of our neighborhoods and perverts our youth,” he said. The Paris attackers were mainly French and Belgian citizens of North African descent, some from neighborhoods that struggle with discrimination, unemployment and alienation.
In its claim of responsibility, the Islamic State group said its members detonated suicide vests both at the airport and in the subway, where many passengers fled to safety down dark tunnels filled with hazy smoke from the explosion. IS warned of further attacks, issuing a statement promising “dark days” for countries taking part in the anti-IS coalition.
European security officials have been bracing for a major attack for weeks and had warned that IS was actively preparing to strike.
The AP reports ISIS has trained at least 400 fighters to carry out waves of attacks in Europe designed to inflict maximum carnage.
“I think it’s going to be Europe’s reality now,” said Zora Hlavcova of Brussels. “Like in Israel, it’s a daily reality? It’s going to be like that here too.
In central Brussels, people of all faiths have been gathering to pay tribute to the victims. Children are writing messages in chalk while others are pausing to say prayers.
There was a heavy police presence at a makeshift memorial near the train bombing and across the city, the subway is open again as people try to get back to their daily routines, CBS News’ Kenneth Craig reported.
But while people in Brussels were on edge, they were also defiant – refusing to let fear keep them away from a memorial honoring the victims, CBS News’ Jonathan Vigliotti reported.
“We are trying to tell the terrorists they are not taking this away from us,” said Brussels resident Suki Jenkins. “This is our life! We’re Brussels!”
Daniel Palumbo and Dina Ferraraccio were visiting from Buffalo. They left the rail station on Wednesday about 20 minutes before the bombing.
“I think all of Europe is going through this in the same way that Brussels is,” Palumbo said. “I think we need to be patient and give it some time, and when the airport opens, look at leaving.”
It was a day of reverence and defiance in Brussels, and Ferraraccio compared it to the days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“It’s history,” she said. “We’re part of history.”
Wednesday morning, people in Belgium and in cities across Europe paused for a moment of silence to remember the victims killed in the deadly attacks.
Several Americans were also injured in the blasts.
The family of Mormon missionary, Mason Wells, spent a long day waiting to learn of his condition. He was injured in the airport attack.
The U.S. military says one American service member and his family were injured.
And Dutch media reports a brother and sister are also missing. Sascha and Alexander Pinczowski have family in the Netherlands, but have been living in New York.
Many have been posting about their disappearance on social media.
They were reportedly on the phone with their mother when she heard an explosion and the phone went dead.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was expected to arrive in Brussels on Friday in a show of American support.
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