keep him alive. we damage there would not have been a shoot to kill policy at anytime in the operation, knowing they had such an important potential witness for the ongoing operation and for other operations and also for the intelligence of different individuals that this person may have contact with outside of belgium, the far-reaching corners of the middle east, or -- for example, where he is trained, who are his associates, where he is getting his money from. and once they have him on his for interrogation and interview purposes, that means they are going to be able to gather a great deal of intel on the paris attacks. >> i guess there are two ways of looking at this, it could be a break through and cue for both belgian and french police, or
you could argue how could it take them four months or more to find a man that might have been in brussels the whole time. >> well, these people that commit these atrocities have a plan b. and i think probably what has happened is that that plan b has come into operation. and therefore, the police not initially fining him, have sort of lost the -- lost the track, and then obviously being able to flee paris, flee france, get back into belgium where he is obviously comfortable, that means that that is two police forces in cahoots with each other, discussing intelligence, discussing what kind of locations this person may be at, and they were waiting for the needle in the haystack and by all accounts they have got it. difficult for the police to explain how they lost the
suspect, but i imagine in the confusion of the actual attacks he slipped through the net, simple as that. >> steve park, thank you. and let's go back to paul brennan who is with me here in the studio. i mean, obviously his capture and interrogation will give police leads and explanations as to what was behind the attacks in paris. >> yes. and going back to the actual arrest, as i said earlier, the fact is that police admitted on tuesday when they went to that initial address, they were not expecting to come up against armed response -- an armed opposition, but once that raid had taken place, and two people were on the run, their cover was broken, and that makes it a lot
easy for the police and the intelligence services to start tracking them. because once -- in that flat that was raided on tuesday they may have felt safe or believe that they were impregnable, but now that they are making decisions on the run, it makes it easier for police. clearly this has given the police and the intelligence services the opportunity to catch him. as far as your question goes about the importance of his place in regards to the investigation. it is vitally important. as i say, he is the one survivor of that core suicide pact gang that mounted those attacks. he may have lost his courage and decided to give up and not detonate his vest. it may have been that his vest malfunctioned and he had to
think of a plan b. either way he has the incite into how the paris attack was devooif -- devised, was carried out, and he will know wider members of that gang, and the police will hope that he will be prepared to give them up. >> incredibly valuable for police. paul brennan, again, stay with us. and now let's go back to brussels and speak to natasha butler who is at the scene. tell us where you are and what is going on? >> i'm at the scene of this huge raid here this afternoon. i'm just standing at a police core -- cordon. there are police pretty much everywhere, shutting off streets, stopping people from going through. they have blocked off quite a big area.
in that area, they are only letting people through who have to pick up their children from school, because apparently there are a few [ inaudible ] at one school in that area. everybody else is being kept right back. >> reporter: and natasha do we have any idea of where exactly this suspect is right now? >> reporter: we don't. all we do know is that the belgium authorities have confirmed that they have arrested him. we know he has been arrested. we also heard reports of other arrests -- another person arrested, possibly another person still holed up. earlier the mayor did say that this operation was going on. for now, though, they are not allowed anywhere near this area, police are keeping people right back. >> we have been told the raid is still going on, do you get that sense in do you get the sense that police are still on high
alert, or what do you feel? >> reporter: yes, very much so. even if the actual police operation is over in terms of the suspects that they were after, perhaps they have been arrested, who they were looking for when they set out today, but even if that is the case they will still have to cordon off this area. the fact they found him today is of course extraordinary news for this city, but for the last four months this has been the man that has been the most wanted in europe. the police have been looking for him. belgian authorities have been blamed for not doing enough to find him and let him slip through the net time and time again. so if it is proved that he has been arrested, the belgian authorities have said as much, and this of course is a large scoop for the belgian police, and a huge relief, i would say
for the belgian authorities. >> natasha, thank you. and staying in that belgian neighborhood where the raid has taken place, and we understand he has been apprehended, we speak now with a journalist who has been speaking to locals in mullenbeck. thank you for joining us here on al jazeera, douglas. tell us what the residents have been telling you. >> can you repeat that. >> what have the residents of mullenbeck been telling you? >> different reactions, but i think the general feeling is that the network behind the paris attacks, we always thought that [ inaudible ] might be in syria, or somewhere else, they might be traveling from, the reality seems to be he has never
has left mullenbeck. three days ago police raided another house. two guys did escape afterwards they found a fingerprint of this suspect. and both raids are linked, and they just found him and tracked him down. but the guys who are with him apparently has always been the same people. it is not this big network we have always been thinking. >> it will be very interesting to see when all of the details come out from this investigation. obviously there was a lot of focus in november when the link was made between those attacks and that neighborhood. has that neighborhood really been focus not just of police but general media interest for all of those months. >> well, what you hear -- i
don't think a lot has changed, because for the people here they see them as petty criminals. they don't see them as part of their communities. there was a woman shouting at me that there has nothing to do with -- with muslims. it has nothing to do with mullenbeck. these are just criminals. and i think what she is saying is the general feeling here in the neighborhood. >> very interesting point. douglas, journalist, thank you so much for having taken the time to speak to us. thank you. the capture of this man, obviously a huge story for europe. those attacks in paris really rattled the whole konth innocent, but there has been reaction from the united states as well on his capture. let's speak to al jazeera's kimberly halkett. kimberly what has the reaction been? >> reporter: well, i can tell you, obviously there is
tremendous interest here in the united states, so it was the subject of questioning during the white house briefing with press secretary, josh earnst, asked about the raid and the paris suspect specifically. he said that it was not clear at this time whether or not president obama had been fully briefed on the situation, but that he was confident that it would take place and that that national security briefing will take place by the end of the day. the united states as french and belgian authorities have been in close consultation since minutes after the paris attack occurred. the feeling is in the united states that the u.s. has significant capabilities, resources that it feels are helpful in this ongoing investigation, and as a result, the u.s. is continuing to contribute in this investigation as there is an effort to really safeguard those countries.
what is unclear at this point is whether or not president obama has been fully briefed on these developments or if that is yet to take place. but what i can tell you is that josh earnst did say there will be close consultation. the word he used is the countries and officials and counterparts would stay in close touch as this is continuing to develop. >> kimberly halkett with the latest from washington, d.c. kimberly thank you. and now we can stay on those live pictures out of brussels, but we can cross to paris and speak to jacky rowland. jacky of course you covered those attacks in paris in november in great detail. just remind us about this man's role in it, and how key he could be in any investigation? >> reporter: well, the really crucial thing is that he is
alive, which is more than we can say for most of the paris attackers, because as you recall, most of the attackers died on that night. either they blew themselves up with explosive vests, or else they were shot dead by special forces who went into the nightclub amongst other locations. he escaped. he took one of the three cars that were rented from a belgian tire company, and he left it -- he abandoned it in the streets in the north of paris. we know from police intelligence he then went on to buy a sim card from a shop in the same area, and he used that sim card to call his friends in brussels. those friends drove through the night, picked him up and drove
him back to brussels. cctv video have been released showing him at a service station on the motorway between paris and brussels. of course there has been a lot of criticism and discussion about possible intelligence failings, how a man who was identified within hours of the attack and who's face had already been flashed all over europe, how he could have evaded the police and crossed an international boarer. but the key thing is he is alive and he could be the repository of a lot of intelligence. obviously the prime consideration is guaranteeing the security of people in the future, and as we saw on tuesday, the fact that there
clearly are a number of people out there who have been involved in that sort of shootout on tuesday in the forest neighborhood of brussels does give an indication that the extent to which the network of people involved in the attacks, be it in a logistical or financial support nature, just how wide that network is. >> jacky rowland with the latest from paris for the moment, jacky thank you. and let's go back to paul brennan who spent time no mullenbeck after the paris attacks. what are we hearing now? >> yes, the wire services and our own reporters who are there are saying basically that the -- it's -- it is the suspect. the justice minister has
confirmed it in a statement saying we got him. and other sources who are speaking on conditional anonymity that it is indeed the number one wanted basically across europe at this time. the police operation appears to be ongoing. it looks like he was wounded in the leg. another man who was in the same location has also been injured and it looks like a third person has been arrested unharmed. we're hearing that the sense of shock in -- in mullenbeck is papable. the belief widespread was that he had long gone. the -- it was inconceivable to many people, even as recently as two weeks after the attacks that he could still be hanging around there because of the police pressure that was in that area. the authorities flooded mullenbeck with all kinds of security forces, not just
regular police, but special forces police. there have been raids ongoing through all of the weeks and months that have now passed since paris. i get almost daily emails from the brussels prosecutor's office with seemingly consequential advances. many raids come across empty handed, but there has been continued police effort to try to track down this man, and yet the fact that he was still there is quite extraordinary. >> there was a raid a few days ago which police got shot at, which they weren't expecting. so in a sense the police got lucky because they stumbled on to something that lead them to this man. >> yes, indeed. the raid that was in a direct a short distance away. the police went there, likely armed.
belgian police do carry weapons, but they weren't expecting to be fired upon. and they certainly weren't expecting to be finding isil paraphernalia. they were fired upon. they did not have, during that raid a proper cordon in place, otherwise the two people who were also in that flat alongside the man who was killed, would not havest kaf -- have escaped the area. we belief one of them was theoretically this man. the assignments of the stars in this one, does appear to have fortuitous. but the important thing is that having flushed out the hiding place of this man, it then gave the police and security forces an advantage, because having been flushed out of the security of the hideout where they had
been for it seems at least three weeks, probably longer, they then had to start making up a plan of escape on the hoof and when you are trying to do that on short notice then from a -- from the point of view of the frujtives, you are vulnerable. and it clearly -- just three days later we now have the results of that. >> paul stay with us. let's just remind the viewers of what our breaking news story is. we have had confirmation from the belgian justice minister that the most wanted fugitive from the paris attacks has been captured. the picture you are seeing is live coming out of the mullenbeck neighborhood, where the raid is still going on. belgian media is reporting that this man was wounded in a police operation. his fingerprint were reportedly
found in an apartment in the city that was raided earlier this week on tuesday. another suspect was then shot dead. he is expected of organizing november's paris attacks that killed 130 people. let's now speak to natasha butler, who is there for us. tell us about what is still going on there now, natasha. >> reporter: well, we're still seeing a police cordon. police have basically shut off a whole area. so we're not able to go down several streets. people are being kept back. police are being asked to stay back unless they are picking up their children from school. because there are a couple of schools in this area. >> what kind of reaction from neighbors -- people living in that part of brussels, natasha?
>> reporter: well, i was speaking to one woman a little bit earlier. she actually -- she said -- she couldn't believe that he would be in this area. and i think that probably echos as the sentiments of most people here. that he could be not only in mullenbeck, but also we're talking about central brussels. this is after all a city that has been on high alert for sometime, in which we see police on every corner of every street, and we knew that he was on the run, so the fact that this man, who was born in brussels, lived in mullenbeck helped to carry out those november 13th attacks, st stayed here. >> have police given any
indication as to whether he is still inside the building? >> reporter: we have not had any indication from police, but what we are hearing is that he may well be on his way to hospital. if that is the case, if that's confirmed, then that would tally with the reports we had earlier -- well, with the belgian authorities saying that he had been arrested and wound. we believe he was maybe shot in the leg. so if he is on his way to hospital, as the belgian media reported, that would of course be his whereabouts. >> natasha butler live for us from the scene. natasha, thank you. and now let's go to normandy in france. i believe that we can speak to -- actually we'll be crossing live to him a little bit later.
just take a look at those pictures of the mullenbeck neighborhood. we can see those pictures life now. paul what was really interesting, i was watching the pictures coming in, and i guess quite a -- you know, our cameraman was zooming into a window, and you could see a woman presumably, her daughter speaking out of the window, as soon as she saw the cameraman zooming in , she pulled the surcontain. what kind of impact this will this have on the neighborhood. >> it's a huge impact. it has a large immigrant population. but it also has a very significant artistic population. it's a gritty neighborhood, yes. but it's also a place where different cultures come together. i remember vividly last november while brussels was in lockdown
while the manhunt was really at its height, police were racing through the streets, sirens blaring, raids taking place regularly on a daily basis. and the residents were bewilders by it all. i remember standing in the central square of mullen beck next to the townhall and there was an old lady there, looking at the army, if you would like, of television satellite trucks which had suddenly invaded this small district. and she didn't quite know what to make of it. it's an area which had had problems. it has had crime. there was a rainy day when my umbrella was swiped. but there are many good people
there. and the reaction of the mullen beck residents was one of surprise, i think. >> let me just stop you, because we just had information from the french police. they are confirming that the suspect sustained a leg injury in the leg. i guess this could be relevant, because it was so important that he was captured alive because he would be crucial in any future investigation? >> yes, there are a number of very important questions they want to put to him. as we now know, he was the driver who look the group of attacke attackers to the area -- the location where the worst of the carnage that took place back in november actually happened. that's where the greatest number of lives were lost. for whatever reason he did not die with the rest of that gang. what is not clear is whether it was intended that he would blow
himself up or if he was supposed to escape. he did escape. he got through roadblocks. he appears to have managed to avoid being captured in a series of subsequent raids in mullenbeck and elsewhere. there is the strongest belief that he escaped potentially even back to syria. now the police will want to know first of all what motivated the gang to carry out the paris attacks, secondly how did they go about organizing that attack, and more importantly, how many other people are still out there who formed part of the support group who organized the logistics, and helped them escape the attention of police for the past four months? how many more of those people are out there. the police will be very keen to
ask him those questions. >> i don't want to make you speculate, but we have also heard one or two other people have been arrested. any speculation who they could be? >> i don't. i receive e mails as i said almost daily. very often the people who are arrested are subsequently released. the intelligence is useful, but it's not actually strictly connected to the paris attacks. so it may be that the other people that were arrested are entirely innocent of any direct connection with the paris attacks. that said, the flushing out of this safe house on tuesday, the
killing of one of the suspects at that raid, and then the subsequent arrest now of this man, and it appears two other suspects is going to be crucially important because once you start having names, you start making connections, and as soon as you can start making connections, you start to get to the wider web, the wider gang. >> very interesting to see all of the developments that come out of this capture. for the moment, paul brennan thank you so much. quick reminder for the viewers joining us now, the belgian justice minister has confirmed that europe's most wanted man and of course involved in the attacks in paris back in november has been captured after a shootout in brussels in the neighborhood of mullenbeck you can see the live pictures there. we'll bring you much more analysis and developments on that story on the al jazeera news hour in just a few minutes. stay with us. bye-bye. ♪