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people walk away from broken windows and emergency services outside the site of a terrorism attack at the Brussels Airport in March 2016

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 22: Passengers are evacuated from Zaventem Bruxelles International Airport after a terrorist attack on 22 March 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. At least 13 people are though to have been killed after Brussels airport was hit by two explosions whilst a Metro station was also targeted. (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

2016 Brussels Bombing Trial Concludes; Six Found Guilty of Terrorist Murder

Six men were found guilty of terrorist murder for their involvement in the March 2016 suicide bombing at the Brussels airport and a metro station. The attacks killed 32 people in a wave of strikes in Europe linked to an Islamic State terror cell.

The trial was the biggest in Belgium’s judicial history, the Associated Press reported. There were more than 900 plaintiffs, and the jury deliberated some 300 questions for 19 days. Of the 10 people who were on trial, eight were convicted of participating in terrorist activities and six were also convicted of terrorist murder.

One defendant—Salah Abdeslam—was arrested days before the Brussels bombings for his involvement in the 2015 Paris bomb and gun attacks. Mohamed Abrini was identified on security video fleeing the airport when his explosives did not detonate; he admitted his role in the attacks, confessing to preparing the explosives. Four other men were found guilty of terrorist murder: Oussama Atar, Osama Krayem, Ali El Haddad Asufi, and Bilal El Makhoukhi. Krayem had a backpack full of explosives at the metro station but did not detonate them. Atar was tried in absentia—it is believed he died in Syria fighting for the Islamic State.

The attacks occurred during the morning rush hour at Zaventem Airport (Brussels Airport) and on the Brussels subway central commuter line. The airport suicide bombs went off at opposite ends of the departures hall, killing 16 people. An hour later, a blast inside a train carriage at the Maelbeek metro station killed another 16 people and wounded hundreds, Al Jazeera reported. Three perpetrators were killed in the attacks.

The court ruled that three people who died in the years after the bombings should also be considered victims of the attacks, including two people who faced devastating psychological illness and post-traumatic stress and one who had to halt cancer treatments because of the wounds caused by the bombings, the BBC reported.

The AP reported that “The jury made a clear connection between the attacks and IS and its extremist ideology, and found that the attackers clearly wanted to intimidate Belgian society. Jurors also determined there was clear homicidal intention and premeditation.”

Sentencing will be decided in a separate process later this year.

The attacks changed the security posture for many organizations based in Belgium. Mastercard’s European headquarters is located just a short distance away from Brussels in Waterloo, Belgium, and the organization enhanced its facility perimeter security to deter malicious attackers. New gates, fencing, and infrared technology were implemented to detect threats, deter intrusion, and comfort employees.

“While the perimeter security project was in progress, the security team worked to regularly communicate with employees to make them feel safe coming to work,” wrote Megan Gates, Gavin Henderson, and Marco Murru for Security Management in 2019. “Mastercard realized that people had newfound concerns about their security that they had not had before the bombings in Brussels.

“Mastercard already had an employee committee in place to spread information across departments, so security partnered with the committee to keep it regularly updated on the project and to share updates with the staff,” they continued. “The project was designed to show employees that Mastercard was investing in their safety in a proactive way, ultimately creating a positive image of the overall enterprise.”