2016 stabbing of Brussels police officers

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2016 stabbing of Brussels police officers
Part of Terrorism in Belgium and Islamic terrorism in Europe (2014–present)
LocationSchaerbeek, Belgium
Date5 October 2016 (UTC+02:00)
TargetPolice officers
Attack type
Injured4 (including the suspect)

On 5 October 2016, three police officers were attacked by a man wielding a machete in the Schaerbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium. Two of them suffered stab wounds, while the third was physically assaulted but otherwise uninjured. The suspected assailant, a Belgian citizen named Hicham Diop, was apprehended and charged with attempted terrorism-related murder and participating in a terrorist group.

He soon told police that his brother had also been involved, and the brother, Aboubaker Diop, was also arrested.


Prior to the stabbing, Schaerbeek and the nearby neighborhood of Molenbeek had already become known as "a hotbed of jihadism" in Brussels. It was the neighborhood where the perpetrators of the March 2016 Brussels bombings and some of the perpetrators of the November 2015 Paris attacks were based. Schaerbeek was the home of the taxi driver who drove the suspects to Brussels Airport.[1] They raided the home and found a nail bomb, 15 kilograms (33 lb) of acetone peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, and an ISIL flag.[2] Inside a waste container near the house they also found a computer belonging to Ibrahim El Bakraoui who is believed to have carried out suicide bombings during the attacks along with his brother.[3][4]

The stabbing came nearly two months after a similar stabbing attack in Charleroi, in which an Algerian citizen stabbed two police officers; and nearly one month after another similar attack in nearby Molenbeek, in which a man of North African origin slightly injured two police officers.[5] At the time of the stabbing, Brussels was on a high terror alert.[6][7]

ISIS has used social media to inspire sympathizers in Western countries to target police and soldiers for attack on the grounds that they represent the state.[8][9][10]

The attack was one of a series of attacks on Belgian police officers in 2016, including the stabbing of two officers on 7 September in Molenbeek and the 6 August 2016 stabbing of Charleroi police officers.[11][12] Christopher Dickey describes this attack as part of a pattern of jihadist attacks in which there have been, "many small incidents and thwarted ones, then suddenly one or two high-casualty attacks" in Europe since 2014.[13]

The attack occurred as a summit of world leaders, including American Secretary of State John Kerry, met in Brussels to discuss Afghanistan.[14]


The attack reportedly occurred during an identity check on Boulevard Lambermont, a busy main road in Schaerbeek.[15] A man, armed with a machete, lunged for two police officers; one was stabbed in the stomach and the other in the neck, but neither was seriously injured. Afterwards, the attacker fled the scene, but encountered a third officer nearby and got into a violent struggle, which resulted in Diop, a former professional boxer, slugging the officer and giving him a broken nose.[16] The officer then shot and wounded the attacker with a single shot to the leg.[5][17] According to an eyewitness, the attacker shouted something in Arabic after being shot.[6]


The suspect, Hicham Diop (43), was at first identified only as Hicham D. by police and media.[6] According to Belgian media, he was a 43-year-old Belgium Army veteran and former boxer who was discharged in 2009 and was previously known to police[18][19][20][21] and to security services for his contacts with extremist Islamists.[22] He was also believed to have links to jihadists who traveled to Syria.[20] A married man with young children, Diop once stood for a seat in a regional parliament, but lost the election.[23] His home was searched by Belgian police, which recovered no weapons.[6]

A spokesman for the federal prosecutor said there was "reason to believe that [the stabbing] is terror-related", but did not initially elaborate.[17][24][11] Hicham D. was charged with attempted terrorism-related attempted murder and participating in a terrorist group.[11] His 46-year-old brother, Aboubaker Diop, was also arrested and charged with participating in a terrorist group.[19]

In 2011, Aboubaker and Hicham were involved in an incident involving the official police vehicle of a security officer.[25][26][27]

Also in 2015, the brothers were arrested for fighting in an incident involving shots fires at a Kinepolis security guard. The defense asserted that the incident was a family quarrel relating to events that occurred years ago in Senegal.[27]

Hicham Diop stood for election on the list of an Islamist party.[4]

The brothers are part of a family that migrated to Belgium form Senegal.[28] Hicham was a kickboxer.[28]

Legal proceedings[edit]

Hicham Diop[edit]

Hicham Diop has been charged with attempted murder in a terrorist context, deliberate intentional assault, violations of arms legislation and armed rebellion.[25][29][30] According to Belgian police, Hicham made terrorism related statements as he was being interrogated.[31] He was known to police for having been in contact with Islamic extremists.[31]

An additional set of charges was filed in June 2017 for threatening two officers with death as they transported him to the police station following his arrest for assault on October 2016.[32][33]

In September 2017, a federal prosecutor asked that Diop be sentenced to 15 years' prison.[34]

Aboubaker Diop[edit]

Aboubaker Diop, born in 1970, a Belgian national has been charged with "participation in the activities of a terrorist group."[35]


Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon tweeted a statement after the attack, expressing his support for police officers in Schaerbeek.[17]

In a speech in February 2017, Donald Trump stated that the media was not reporting on terrorist attacks. Later that day, the administration included this stabbing attack in a list of 78 attacks which the admin said were "under-reported". It was not clear what "under-reported" meant, or what criteria were used to compile the list. News organizations stated that they had indeed covered most of the incidents in the list, some of them extensively. Politifact rated Donald Trump's claim as false.[36][37][38][39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ David Lawler; Danny Boyle (22 March 2016). "Brussels attacks: 34 killed and hundreds wounded as Islamic State claims responsibility for airport and Metro bombings – live". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Eén verdachte wordt momenteel ondervraagd". Gazet van Antwerpen. 23 March 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  3. ^ Alastair Jamieson; Annick M'Kele (23 March 2016). "Brussels Attacks: El Bakraoui Brothers Were Jailed for Carjackings, Shootout". NBC News. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Prosecutors say Brussels knifeman is terror attack suspect". EURACTIV. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b Samuel, Henry (5 October 2016). "Two policemen injured in Brussels stabbing in suspected terror attack". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d Dewan, Angela; Isaac, Lindsay (5 October 2016). "Two Brussels police officers stabbed in terror attack, prosecutor says". CNN. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Suspects face terrorism charges after raids in Belgium". DW. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  8. ^ "Feds Warn of ISIS-Inspired Threat Against Police, Reporters in US". NBC News. 13 October 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  9. ^ "European terror attacks increasingly targeting police, security forces". Fox News. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Timeline: How jihadists have targeted soldiers and police in France". The Local. 6 June 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2017. February 3rd, 2017: A man pulled out two machetes and attacked one of the soldiers standing guard at the entrance to the underground Carrousel du Louvre shopping centre, which is next to the world famous art gallery. Soldiers tried to fight him off with close contact but were unable to contain him. They then opened fire.
  11. ^ a b c "Policières attaquées en Belgique: six interpellations". AFP. 30 November 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Liege shooting: Two police and passer-by dead in Belgium". BBC. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  13. ^ Dickey, Christopher (23 June 2017). "There Are So Many Attacks It's a Terror Blur, But Those Who Keep Track Are Very Worried". Daily Beast. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  14. ^ Pascaline, Mary (11 November 2016). "Paris Terror Attacks Anniversary: Timeline Of Violent Year For Europe". International business Times. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  15. ^ Milan Schreuer, "2 Brussels Police Officers Are Stabbed in ‘Potential Terrorist Attack’," 5 October 2016, New York Times, [1].
  16. ^ "Les avocats du frère d'Hicham Diop demandent sa remise en liberté". 7Sur7. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  17. ^ a b c Rankin, Jennifer (5 October 2016). "Brussels stabbing: two police officers targeted in suspected terror attack". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  18. ^ "Broers Diop verschijnen voor raadkamer". Nieuws. 10 October 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  19. ^ a b "Brother of suspect in Brussels police stabbings also charged". The Roanoke Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 19 October 2016.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ a b "Brussels police stabbed in 'terror attack'". BBC News. 5 October 2016. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  21. ^ "Policiers agressésà Schaerbeek: la détention de Hicham D. prolongée". Capitale. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  22. ^ "Policiers poignardés à Schaerbeek: Hicham Diop renvoyé en correctionnelle". RTBF - Radio Télévision Belge de la Communauté française (in French). 20 April 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2017. Il est par ailleurs déjà connu des services de sécurité pour ses contacts avec des extrémistes islamistes.
  23. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (8 October 2016). "Brussels police stabbing suspect served in the army and stood in local elections". The Independent. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  24. ^ Osborne, Samuel (5 October 2016). "Brussels police stabbing: Two officers attacked in possible terror incident in Belgium". The Independent. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  25. ^ a b "Policiers poignardés à Schaerbeek: Hicham Diop poursuivi pour tentative d'assassinat dans un contexte terroriste". La Libre. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  26. ^ "Policiers poignardés en Belgique : Hicham Diop reste en détention". Dakaractu. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  27. ^ a b "Policiers poignardés à Schaerbeek: la qualification de terrorisme abandonnée?". 7sur7. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  28. ^ a b "Hicham Diop, kick-boxeur et ex-militaire, attaque des policiers en rue à Schaerbeek (Belgique) et tente de s'emparer de l'arme de l'un des agents". Dakar Poste. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  29. ^ "Agression de deux policiers à Schaerbeek: Hicham Diop sera jugé en correctionnelle". Le Soir. 20 April 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2017.[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "Terrorisme: procès en vue pour l'agresseur de policiers bruxellois". AFP. 20 April 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  31. ^ a b "Le procès d'Hicham Diop plaidé en septembre prochain". Agence Belga. 22 May 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  32. ^ "Deux policiers citent directement Hicham Diop devant le tribunal". 12 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  33. ^ "Schaerbeek: deux policiers citent directement Hicham Diop devant le tribunal". La Capitale - SudPresse (in French). 12 June 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2017. The case was filed while the Federal Prosecutor's Office is already prosecuting Hicham Diop for the acts related to his arrest last October. It will therefore be attached to the first
  34. ^ https://www.rtbf.be/info/societe/detail_agression-au-couteau-contre-des-policiers-15-ans-requis-contre-hicham-diop?id=9702766
  35. ^ "Agression à Bruxelles: le frère du suspect inculpé de participation à un "groupe terroriste"". AFP. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  36. ^ "Trump says terror attacks 'under-reported': Is that true?". BBC. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  37. ^ Naylor, Brian (6 February 2017). "White House List Contradicts Trump Claim That Terror Attacks Go Unreported". NPR. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  38. ^ Phipps, Claire (7 February 2017). "The full list of Trump's 'under-reported' terror attacks – and how they were reported". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  39. ^ Jacobson, Louis (Feb 6, 2017). "Donald Trump wrong that media is not reporting on terrorism any more". Politifact.