Skip To Content
Breaking News

Brussels Airport Suicide Bombers Targeted Jews and Americans

(JTA) — A suicide bomb attack on the Brussels airport last year targeted Jews and people travelling to the United States, the French news service AFP reported.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the March 22, 2016 attack on the Brussels airport and a suicide bomb attack at a metro station in central Brussels which took place an hour later.

Mohamed Abrini, a member of the attack team nicknamed the “man in the hat” who was arrested in Brussels on April 8,  reportedly told a Belgian court  after his arrest that one of the original targets in the attacks that killed 32 was the departure area for flights to Tel Aviv. Abrini ran from the scene of the airport attack without detonating his bomb-filled suitcase.

“We know they wanted to target Americans. It’s clear they had quite specific targets,” the source told AFP.  “We know they were obsessed with the Israelis too,” he also said.

One unnamed source told the news service that never-made-public camera footage showed one of the bombers standing among 60 high school students before he started to follow two haredi-Orthodox Jews, indicating that he “really, clearly wanted to kill a Jew.”

Four of the dead were Americans. Two young Israelis, both Belz Hasids who are easily identified as Jewish, were injured in the attacks and flown to Jerusalem for treatment.

The AFP also cited an unnamed U.S. government source who said that investigators “are very confident they (bombers) were targeting US, Russia and Israel.”

The attack occurred at around 8:00 am on a Tuesday, shortly before scheduled flights to the United States, Israel and Russia were set to depart by airlines including United, American, Delta, El Al, Brussels Airlines and Aeroflot.

Investigators believe the bombers were part of the same Brussels-based ISIS cell that planned the November 2015 Paris attacks.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.