|Dutch Parliament in session|
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday night that Ibrahim El Bakraoui had been picked up on the Turkish border with Syria last year and that both Belgium and the Netherlands were warned he was ‘a foreign fighter’, broadcaster Nos says.
El Bakraoui was sent to the Netherlands at his own request, after Belgium failed to find any terrorist links, Erdogan is reported to have said. He is then thought to have travelled on to Belgium.
Belgium’s justice minister, Koen Geens, later confirmed that El Bakraoui, 29, was sent to the Netherlands. He was not known as a terrorist but was on parole for other crimes, Geens is quoted as saying by VRT news.
According to the Standaard newspaper, he had been sentenced to nine years in jail in 2011 for an armed robbery and was released on parole in 2014.
At first Dutch ministers avoided any commenst and the claims and inquiries about this case were being referred to the NCTB, Dutch News agency Nos said .
Tonight Thursday March 24, however, Dutch minister of Safety and Security Ard van der Steur said in a letter he addressed to the Dutch Parliament that the statement made by Turkish President Erdogan about El Bakraoui were not as he perceived them and he gave a "variety of answers" why he thought so.
Once again, the above showed how disorganized and poorly coordinated vital security information, in this case pertaing to the criminal activities of El Bakraoui, were being handled.
A Dutch parliamentarian noted : "instead of trying to duck the fact that he failed to deal properly with this issue, Mr. van der Scheur should follow the example of his Belgian colleague and at least hand in his resignation".