Mohamed S., a 53-year-old police officer from the Brussels suburb of Schaerbeek, was sentenced last week to 50 months in prison for having had confidential contacts with Yassine Atar, the brother of the main coordinator of the attacks in Brussels (2016) and Paris (2015).

The revelation of the existence of this “mole” embedded in the Belgian police during the most dramatic period of its recent history has gone virtually unnoticed by public opinion in this country, which is now mainly concerned with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Moroccan-born policeman was already arrested and sent to prison in September 2017 on charges of violation of professional secrecy and corruption.

The investigation has served to explain many things that seemed inexplicable at the time of the attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016. It was difficult to understand how this myriad of low-rent terrorists could move around the Molenbeek and Schaerbeek neighbourhoods at will, coming and going in the French capital without arousing suspicion. In the end, and despite the secrecy with which the information had to be made public, it ended up being known that the main ringleaders linking the two attacks that caused 137 deaths and 415 injuries in Paris, and 35 deaths and 340 injuries in Brussels, had an informant within the Belgian police who informed them about how to circumvent the surveillance arrangements.

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