“With the usual reservations, it seems to indicate that Oussama Atar is dead and, importantly, that the judicial investigation continues. It is essential to continue to try to shed light on this dark affair.”
Georges Dallemagne — Belgian Federal representative (February 28 2018)
“If not for the request by different organizations … Oussama Atar would still be in Iraqi prison.”
Jawad Al-Hindawi — Iraqi Ambassador to Belgium
“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don’t rule out malice.”
March 2 2018 — Oussama Atar, a Belgian of Moroccan descent believed to be the mastermind of the Paris and Brussels attacks, is dead according to French Intelligence. Now, a Belgian senator asks some questions which Intel Today raised long ago. Better late than never. UPDATE – On November 7 2018, the French DGSE confirmed Atar’s death. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
RELATED POST: Paris attacks — Belgium formally charges Yassine Atar
RELATED POST: Welcome to Belgistan! [Is Belgium a Failed State?]
UPDATE (March 2 2019) — Another year is gone. And what have we learned? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. This case is a disgrace!
END of UPDATE
On February 23 2018, French media reported that Oussama Atar was dead. He would have been killed a few weeks ago somewhere in the “Syria-Iraq” area.
His body was not recovered but French Intelligence services believe that he was killed.
Georges Dallemagne (born 17 January 1958 in Belgian Congo), is a Belgian politician and doctor.
On Wednesday (February 28 2018), the Belgian Federal representative asked the following questions to the Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens.
Georges Dallemagne — Some news agencies report that Oussama Atar is dead in Syria or Iraq. We know that his role in the Paris and Brussels attacks is very important, even if there are still many gray areas.
The circumstances of his release when he returned in 2012, the reasons why the Belgian Government actively sought to release him, the reasons why he was not the subject of surveillance measures by the Belgian security on his return from Iraq, the reasons for which a passport was issued to him contrary to the promises of the Belgian authorities towards the Iraqi authorities, are so many enigmas.
The Belgian population and the victims of the attacks in Paris and Brussels have the right to have, one day or the other, as soon as possible, answers to these questions. Also, do you have any information to confirm Osama Atar’s death? Where, when, and under what circumstances?
Regardless of this, is a judicial inquiry concerning Osama Atar ongoing? If so, will it continue?
Koen Geens — State Security has received information that may indicate the death of Oussama Atar. Given the situation in the Iraqi-Syrian zone, this type of information can not be fully confirmed. This information is exchanged with the various Belgian partners and put into perspective with the other information collected in order to obtain an image of the most recent threat possible. The open judicial investigation in question of Osama Atar continues.
Georges Dallemagne — I am satisfied with the minister’s response. With the usual reservations, it seems to indicate that Osama Atar is dead and, importantly, that the judicial investigation continues. It is essential to continue to try to shed light on this dark affair.
According to an official letter, the Iraqis (Read: “the Americans”) had released Atar on two conditions. First, Atar would not be allowed to travel, and thus the Belgian Foreign Ministry would not give him a passport. Second, his activities would be monitored.
Even though Atar’s name was on the Belgian foreign fighters list, he visited his cousins — the El Bakraoui brothers, who had been arrested for criminal activity — at two separate prisons on the outskirts of Brussels 20 times. These two cousins are two of the suicide-bombers who later carried out the Brussels attacks.
The Belgian Foreign Ministry did issue a passport to Ousama Atar. The reasons for this remain a mystery to this day.
One should never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity; At the same time, one should not rule out malice altogether. Two years after the attacks, there are still many darks corners to that affair.
Atar’s lawyer — Vincent Lurqin — had appealed to Belgian intelligence for more information. A letter from Belgian Intelligence shows that they denied knowing anything about Atar. At the same time, they refused a court order to turn over his intelligence file!
In May 2006, the CIA informed the Belgian Intelligence Services that Oussama Atar is jailed at Cropper Camp in Irak. [Keep in mind that he had been arrested in Ramadi, then under the control of al-Qaeda.] A Belgian Intelligence officer — André Jacob — is sent to Irak to interview Oussama Atar. The ‘interview’ lasted about one week.
On April 9 2008, Atar’s release from jail is decided at the highest level of the Belgian Government by the Comité Ministeriel de Renseignement et de la Sureté [CMRS].
On April 18 2008, the Belgian Foreign Ministry requests Atar’s release. In exchange, it offers promises to the Iraqi government that Atar will be monitored and not allowed to travel (no passport).
According to Didier Reynders — who was a member of the CMRS in April 2008 — the Belgian Intelligence Services had a keen interest in the release of Oussama Atar. And why would that be?
1985 May 4 — Born in Laeken, Belgium
1999/2000 — First visit to Syria. Lives in Idlib
2002 — Ousama Atar travels to Syria
2004 — Atar goes back in 2004 before travelling to Iraq.
2005 — Arrested in Ramadi for crossing the border illegally/weapons trafficking
2005 May 24 — Life sentence
2006 May — The CIA informs the Belgian Intelligence Services that Oussama Atar is jailed at Cropper Camp in Iraq.
2006 — A Belgian Intelligence officer — André Jacob — is sent to Iraq to interview Oussama Atar. The ‘interview’ lasted about one week.
2007 February 28 — Under pressure from the Belgian government, the sentence is reduced to 10 years
2008 April 9 — Atar’s release from jail is decided at the highest level of the Belgian Government by the Comité Ministeriel de Renseignement et de la Sureté [CMRS].
2008 April 18 — The Belgian Foreign Ministry requests Atar’s release. In exchange, it offers promises that will be monitored and not allowed to travel (no passport).
2009 — A letter sent from the US Embassy to Belgian officials in Jordan outlines how Atar attempted a prison break with terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
2010 May — Amnesty International raises concerns about Atar’s general state of well-being to the Iraqi authorities
2010 Summer — Atar receives a consular visit from the Belgian embassy in Amman
2010 October 9 — The Belgian government [Website of Foreign Affairs] publicly reveals that repeated requests were made by Belgium to the Iraqi government to consider an early release of Oussama Atar for humanitarian reasons
2010 October 9 — Belgian politicians Zoé Genot, Ahmed Mouhssine, Jamal Ikazban and Ahmed El Khannouss participate in a campaign to free Oussama Atar
2010 November 14 — Amnesty International “call for action” to activists. “Oussama Atar, a 26-year-old Belgian national, is in need of urgent medical care at al-Rusafa Prison in Iraq.” [This information is false]
2012 September 16 — Oussama Atar returns to Belgium
2013 — Belgian Foreign Ministry delivers a passport to Oussama Atar
2013 December 30 — Atar is arrested in Hammamet, Tunisia. He is released and disappears. He later reappears in the Syria-Irak area.
2015 (Summer) — Belgian Police learns that Khalid El Bakraoui asked friends to gather “as much Kalashnikov ammunition as possible”.
2015 October 21 — Khalid El Bakraoui’s house is searched. Investigators find “calls for jihad” and “photos of known terrorists” on his laptop. Nothing is done. He is NOT arrested.
2015 November 13 — Paris attacks
2015 December — After the arrest of two “returnees” from Syria, the investigators learned about known as ‘Abu Ahmad’, a terrorist involved in recruiting a number of Islamist militants for attacks in Europe. Later, a computer — found in garbage — establishes the identity of Abu Ahmad as Oussama Atar.
2016 March 22 — Brussels attacks
2017 June 2 — Yassine Atar — brother of Oussama — is charged with ‘terrorist assassinations’
2017 November 17 — Atar is killed in Syria
2018 February 22 — Oussama Atar is reported dead
2018 November 7 — Atar’s death is confirmed
UPDATE (March 5 2018) — On Saturday (March 3 2018), De Morgen — a Belgian Flemish newspaper — revealed that Khalid El Bakraoui — a cousin of Oussama Atar and the suicide bomber of the Maelbeek metro station in Brussels — was under surveillance.
Specifically, during the summer of 2015, Khalid El Bakraoui asked friends to gather “as much Kalashnikov ammunition as possible”.
Investigators bugged his phone, placed him under surveillance and photographed him during a “business meeting”.
His house was searched on the 21st of October 2015. Investigators did find “calls for jihad” and “photos of known terrorists” on his laptop.
A report from the anti-terrorist division states that he shows signs of radicalization. And yet, despite this, nothing was done.
In a piece titled “The Islamic State of Molenbeek” published by the New York Times on April 11 2016, Roger Cohen — a former journalist who worked for Reuters in Brussels — wrote:
“A jihadi loves a vacuum, as Syria demonstrates. Belgium as a state, and Belgium as the heart of the European Union are as close to a vacuum as Europe offers these days. (…) There is a vacuum. Vacuums are dangerous.”
It is becoming increasingly difficult to disagree with the harsh criticism expressed by Cohen and other experts. It would seem fair to quote William Shakespeare: “There is something rotten in the State of… Belgium.”
But, as the French Newspaper “Le Monde” wrote after the attacks, Belgium is a Nation without a State.
UPDATE (November 7 2018) — French news website, Mediapart, citing France’s General Directorate of External Security, confirms that Oussama Atar was killed by an airstrike by the international anti-jihadist coalition in Syria.
“On November 17th, 2017, a strike by the international coalition in Syria killed the Belgian Oussama Atar.”
Its statement follows the opening of an investigation, which has revealed that the seven people, believed to be the masterminds of the Paris and Brussels attacks, have all been killed in Syria.
The Belgian Federal Prosecution Service did not wish to comment upon the information.
So, Atar is dead, but many questions regarding his activities in Belgium remain unexplained.
END of UPDATE
The Islamic State’s External Operations and the French-Belgian Nexus
By Jean-Charles Brisard and Kévin Jackson — CTC SENTINEL
Search for jihadi draws a blank — Flanders News
Europe’s most wanted — POLITICO 01/29/2016
Europe’s most wanted Fugitives — Official Website
Un document le prouve: les Affaires étrangères et Steven Vanackere (CD&V) ont demandé à ce que Oussama Atar soit libéré
Paris & Brussels Attacks — Q&A About Oussama Atar in the Belgian Parliament
Paris & Brussels Attacks — Q&A About Oussama Atar in the Belgian Parliament (UPDATE)
Paris & Brussels Attacks — Q&A About Oussama Atar in the Belgian Parliament (UPDATE : French DGSE Confirms Atar Death)
One Year Ago — Paris & Brussels Attacks : Q&A About Oussama Atar in the Belgian Parliament