New York police, not FBI, gave Dutch Brussels bomber info: minister

A memorial to the victims. Photo: Miguel Discart on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons
A memorial to the victims. Photo: Miguel Discart on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

Information about two Belgian brothers involved in the Brussels bombing was passed to the Netherlands by police in New York, not the FBI, justice minister Ard van der Steur told parliament on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, during a debate on the way the Netherlands dealt with the deportation of one of the brothers from Turkey, Van der Steur said information about their background had been given to the Netherlands by the FBI on March 16.

The next day, there was direct contact between the Belgian and Dutch police during which the brothers’ ‘radical backgrounds’ was discussed, Van der Steur said. A week later, the two brothers blew themselves up in suicide bomb attacks at Zaventum airport and a metro station.

‘A mistake has been made in identifying the source of the information,’ Van der Steur said in a written note to parliament. ‘The Dutch liaison at the embassy in Washington was given a message from another major American intelligence organisation, the Intelligence Division of the New York Police Department.’

This information was then passed on to the Dutch police without being sourced, he said. ‘In the Netherlands it was assumed this information came from the FBI.’

Van der Steur said he did not know why the information had been passed on to the Netherlands and that he has asked the New York police for clarification.

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