Brussels terror attacks seem ‘targeted toward Americans’ – US lawmaker

Broken windows of the terminal at Brussels national airport are seen during a ceremony following bomb attacks in Brussels metro and Belgium's National airport of Zaventem, Belgium, March 23, 2016. © Yorick Jansens
The bombings in Brussels on Tuesday appear to have targeted Americans in Belgium, according to the top lawmaker on the US House Intelligence Committee.

"From my vantage point, it does look like an attack on Americans. It looks like it was targeted toward Americans to some degree," Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Nunes said his suggestion was based on where the suicide bombers decided to detonate their explosives: The blast at the Brussels airport took place near stands belonging to US airlines American, Delta and United. The blast at the Metro station, meanwhile, was near the US Embassy.

“With all that said, if you’re going to pick some locations where you might hit Americans, those would be the locations,” he said, as quoted by The Hill newspaper.

“We may never know, but from my vantage point, this looks like those locations, to me, look like places where you would hit Americans,” he added. “It looks suspicious.”

Nunes’ comments come two days after the bombings, as authorities continue to investigate the attack. Although 31 people were killed and more than 250 were injured, none of the dead have been confirmed to be Americans. According to the State Department, at least 12 Americans were injured in the bombings, but others remain unaccounted for, including a brother and sister and a couple that have not been heard from since the attack.

"At this time, we are not aware of any US citizen deaths. We must emphasize that a number of US citizens remain unaccounted for and the Kingdom of Belgium has not yet released nationality information for reported fatalities,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday.

According to The Hill, another reason to be skeptical of Nunes’ suggestion is that the Metro station that was struck is closer to the European Union offices, and other subway stations are closer to the US Embassy.

Regarding other aspects of the attack, Nunes said the terrorists were likely connected to the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, a suspect linked to the Paris attacks last year. He also said he thinks the terror cell involved in that attack is “much larger” than previously believed.

"We don't want to be definitive, but it appears like this group had connections to the arrest that was made a few days ago," Nunes told Reuters.

Nunes also said that it was too early to tell who was in charge of planning the attacks – the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for them – and whether encrypted devices were used to communicate plans.