A would-be suicide bomber in Brussels shut down an entire section of the city during rush hour Tuesday, only for a bomb squad to determine his suicide belt was just salt and cookies.
The bomber, identified by the prosecutor’s office as only “J.B.,” is currently in custody and being questioned by authorities. He apparently has a criminal record and is known to have had psychiatric issues in the past. Prosecutor Rym Kechiche has said it is unclear whether the bomber was connected to terrorism or simply a hoax.
The scene played out like something out of a bad action movie. J.B. had called police at 5:30 AM, warning that he had been kidnapped and fitted with an explosive suicide vest equipped with a remote detonator that could be held by another person. Police are searching for a suspect believed to have driven him to the scene.
J.B. had recently told police that he had joined the Islamic State, but Brussels authorities have yet to confirm or deny his tie to the organization.
Brussels has been on a high terror alert since last November’s ISIS-linked terrorist attack in Paris, and a subsequent attack in Brussels in March.
“The situation of this morning has no impact on the existing measures,” said Belgian Crisis Center spokesman Peter Mertens to reporters.
Belgian security officials have been working around the clock ever since the Paris and Brussels attacks, most recently apprehending three men on terrorism charges. The men were arrested during two days of raids, which resulted in the the search of 40 houses. It is believed that the plotters intended to attack a Euro 2016 soccer game between the Belgian and Irish national teams.
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