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Bombers Killed a Man First so They'd Know 'What it Was Like'

Accomplice told investigators brothers picked a victim out on the street in 2014
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2021 4:50 PM CST

(Newser) – Suicide bombers whose 2016 attacks left 31 people dead in Brussels first shot a man to death at random, investigators said, to learn what it was like to kill. Ibrahim El-Bakraoui carried out a suicide bombing at Zaventem airport, killing 11. His brother Khalid killed another 20 at a metro station. Later, according to an interview transcript, a suspected accomplice said that Khalid El-Bakraoui had told him that he and his brother had shot someone on the street in 2014, the BBC reports. "Khalid explained it was an elderly person and that they had wanted to test what it was like to kill someone," the investigator's notes say. The informant is among 10 people scheduled to be tried in the attacks next year.

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Paul-André Vanderperren, 76, was a retired civil servant, per the Brussels Times. He had left a cafe after watching his favorite soccer team on TV, and was not seen again. Investigators could not come up with a motive for his slaying. Vanderperren's widow was told last year that investigators believe the brothers killed her husband, per Arab News. "I'm still left with plenty of questions," she said, "but, in a way, it's a relief.'" Officials expect no further court proceedings to come of the information; in addition to the El-Bakraoui brothers, one accomplice was killed in the attacks. More than 300 people were injured in the bombings. (Read more Brussels attack stories.)

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