Even though Mourad Laachraoui happens to be the brother of one of the Brussels suicide bombers who bombed the Brussels International Airport, his separate identity as a sportsman is being recognized and respected by Belgium. Mourad who won the gold at the European Taekwondo Championships is now set to compete for Belgium at the Olympic Games in Rio. Older brother Najim, 24, was one of two suicide bombers who blew himself up at Brussels Airport on March 22. The attacks, including another suicide bomber on the city’s metro, killed 32 people.
In a report by The Huffington Post, Mourad, aged 21, is listed among Belgium’s 185-strong squad bound for the games in Rio De Janeiro starting on August 5, where he will compete in the Under-58 kg category. On Friday, Mourad won gold in the Under-54kg in Montreux, Switzerland, the Flemish taekwondo federation dubbing him “Europe’s king of the lightweights” in a tweet.
In a news conference two days after the attacks, Mourad said his brother was a nice, intelligent boy and had given no signs of being radicalized before he left for Syria in 2013 and broke all contact with his family. A veteran Islamist fighter in Syria, electromechanics-trained Najim is also suspected of making explosive belts for last November’s Paris attacks, which killed 130 people. “It’s crazy, really – the same parents, the same upbringing, and one turns out really well and the other really bad,” his lawyer Philippe Culot said in March. “You don’t choose your family,” Mourad remarked.