BRUSSELS — The jihadist cell that launched deadly attacks on Paris and Brussels received its orders from “very high” in the Islamic State group command, Belgium’s federal prosecutor said Wednesday.
“We know that the orders came from the Islamic State zone…. We know that it went very high in the command,” Frederic Van Leeuw said in an interview with AFP.
He could not say exactly which top IS official or officials gave the orders or whether they sent them from a base in Syria or Iraq, the territory run by IS leader and self-declared caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
He said the command moved around to dodge US-backed strikes. “Baghdadi was for a while in Mosul, sometimes in Raqqa,” he added.
“We don’t know at all who are the people who really gave the orders,” he said.
Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks across Paris on November 13 that killed 130 people as well as the suicide bombings at Brussels airport and a metro station on March 22 that killed 32 people.
Van Leeuw said the attacks were carried out by the same cell, some of whose members were based in Brussels, and the authorities are still looking for suspects who did not die in the attacks or were arrested afterward.
“The investigation is far from having ended, as much at the Belgian as at the French level,” he said.