Brussels Islamist Shooter Illegally Entered Europe, Avoided Deportation Attempts

Brussels Islamist Shooter Illegally Entered Europe, Avoided Deportation Attempts

The Tunisian terrorist who killed two people in an apparently Islamist-inspired shooting in Brussels reportedly illegally entered Europe in a people smuggler migrant boat in 2011 and successfully avoided several attempts to deport him.

Abdelsalem Lassoued, 45, was shot and killed by police in Brussels after he drove upon civilians on a motor scooter and began firing shots at civilians, killing two people from Sweden and injuring another on Monday evening.

Now it has emerged that the terrorist, who claimed affiliation with the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), had no right be in Europe but had evaded efforts to deport him back to his home country of Tunisia in Northern Africa.

According to a report from Belgian broadcaster RTL, the would-be terrorist first arrived in Europe aboard a people smuggler migrant boat in 2011 on the beaches of the Italian island of Lampedusa, which has long been one of the top destinations for illegals crossing the Mediterranean from Africa.

Lassoued then applied for asylum in the northern Italian city of Turin, however, his request was refused. Rather than returning home, he travelled to Norway. Norwegian authorities were able to expel the Tunisian national back to Italy, but by 2012 he managed to make his way to Sweden where he remained for two years, during which he spent time in prison for drug crimes.

He was removed back to Italy once again, and in 2016 Italian authorities first began to consider Lassoued as dangerous and at risk of becoming an Islamic radical. Although he was issued with yet another deportation order, he successfully challenged his removal in court. Lassoued later relocated to Belgium where he once again applied for asylum in 2020 and in 2021. Though his request was denied again, he ignored the removal order and remained in the country until the fatal attack on Monday in Brussels.

The failures of multiple European Union countries to deport the terrorist prior to his attack have led to calls from within the bloc to strengthen the ability of governments to deport illegal migrants and failed asylum seekers.

On Wednesday, both Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson joined together in calling for changes to EU law to make it easier to remove migrants back to their home countries.

“The European migration pact should stand for better border controls, but also for a coordinated European return policy,” De Croo said.

“We need to be able to protect our borders. We need to know who is in Sweden. Are they here legally or illegally? If they are not here in a legal way, they are obliged to leave the country. We need to protect our European borders,” Kristersson said.

The Mayor of Brussels Bernard Clerfayt noted that the case of Lassoued was far from a one-off, saying: “There are thousands and thousands of orders to leave the country that have not been carried out, and what’s more, the procedure makes no provision for tracking down the addresses of all these people.”