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Mourad Laachraoui: ‘Brother of bomber’ makes Belgium Olympics team
- Updated: May 21, 2016
Mourad Laachraoui is also set to compete at the Rio Olympics this August.
Mourad Laachraoui, 21, has won gold in the European taekwondo Championships, earning a spot in Belgium’s Olympic team ahead of the summer games in August.
He beat Spaniard Jesus Tortosa 6-3 in the -54kg final in Montreux, Switzerland to claim the championship title.
Laachraoui is the younger brother of Najim Laachraoui, 24, one of the two suicide bombers who triggered deadly explosions in the departures terminal at Brussels airport on March 22.
A third attack targeted Maalbeek metro station more than an hour later. In all, 35 people, including the three attackers, were killed in the coordinated nail bomb attacks.
Days later, Mourad Laachraoui “firmly” condemned his brother’s role in the attacks and said he hadn’t seen Najim since he left Belgium for Syria two years ago.
“I was moved and stunned,” Mourad said, recalling how he’d learnt of his brother’s involvement.
“I didn’t want to believe it was him, but you can’t choose your family.”
He said Najim had been a normal young man and practising Muslim before he became radicalised.
“He was a nice boy, and especially intelligent,” the younger brother said. “He played a bit of football, he read.
“I have no idea why my brother turned (to terrorism). We didn’t see any change when he became radicalised.”
After the attacks, Mourad’s lawyer told the press: “It’s crazy, they were born into the same family, they received the same education and one turns everything white and the other black, even very, very black.
“He’s not responsible for the actions of his brother.”
A rising taekwondo star, Mourad also won silver at the at the Summer Universiades in 2015.