A decorated Taekwondo athlete whose brother helped carry out the Brussels terrorist attacks is set to represent Belgium at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Mourad Laachraoui, a 21-year-old Taekwondo fighter, will represent his country in this year’s games roughly five months after his older brother Najim detonated a suicide bomb at the Brussels airport on March 22.
Thirty-two people were killed in the attacks at the airport and a metro station.
Belgian prosecutors have said DNA test results suggest Najim, 24, also helped construct the suicide vests used in the November Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead.
Mourad won a gold medal on May 19 at the European Taekwondo Championships in Montreux, Switzerland, in the 54-kg male group.
A tournament press release that day read that while Mourad was “one of the people who a few months ago had involuntarily been in the limelight because of his brother’s relationship to terrorism,” he had just won his first medal at the prestigious Taekwondo event.
In an interview with Belgian media on March 25, three days after the attacks, Mourad described his brother as kind and intelligent.
“He was a nice boy, and above all he was clever,” he said, according to Reuters. “That’s what I remember of him.”
The younger Laachraoui brother added that Najim did not exhibit any signs that he had radicalized before he left for Syria and ended all contact with his family in 2013.
“You don’t choose your family,” he said.
Tamerra Griffin is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based Nairobi, Kenya.
Contact Tamerra Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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