Report: Netherlands, Belgium discussed Brussels bomber last year

Ibrahim El Bakraoui
Brussels bombing suspect Ibrahim El-Bakraoui. Brussels bombing suspect Ibrahim El-Bakraoui

Update, 18:20, 24 March 2016: Parliamentary debate on Brussels was delayed until next week. The story was updated to reflect that.

On July 15th last year, an employee of the Belgian embassy in Ankara informed the Netherlands tha - believed to be a bomber in the on Tuesday - was deported from Turkey to the Netherlands, NRC reports based on sources in The Hague.

The Belgian employee informed the Netherlands one day after El Bakraoui was deported to the Netherlands on July 14th. The employee only gave El Bakraoui's first and last name, not his date of birth, nationality or the reason for his deportation.

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, was scheduled to debate the terrorist attacks in Brussels Thursday evening. The Netherlands connection to El-Bakraoui is expected to be an important topic on the agenda. Analysts say that Prime Minister Mark Rutte has a difficult debate in front of him.

Earlier on Thursday Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice told broadcaster NOS that his ministry is getting all the facts about El Bakraoui's deportation ready for the debate. "We're simply working to get the facts in a row so we can inform the Kamer properly", he said. Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs said the facts will be sent to the Kamer before the debate starts at 5:30 p.m.

However, no letter was sent to Members of Parliament, prompting PVV leader Geert Wilders to call for a delay until next week. Wilders' motion won the backing of other party leaders, including Jesse Klaver from Groenlinks.

"The facts must first come to light before we can properly debate them," Klaver said, according to NOS. The ruling coalition of the right wing VVD and left wing PvdA parties ultimately agreed to postpone debate.

Earlier in the day, the Tweede Kamer observed a minute of silence to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attacks earlier on Thursday afternoon. Kamer president Khadija Arib stated that the Netherlands and the rest of Europe are mourning along with Belgium.

"Because we are historically linked. Because they are our dear neighbors. Because Brussels forms the heart of Europe, where we stand for the same values: openness, security and freedom - freedom of religion, but also of non-belief. And it is precisely these values that were attacked on Tuesday", she said, according to the Telegraaf.

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