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Prison May Have Made Belgian Attacker a Radical, Officials Say

“Are you Muslim? Do you observe Ramadan?” he asked, according to Darifa, who answered both questions affirmatively.

“Listen, what I tell you to do, do it,” he continued. “But don’t worry. I won’t do anything to you.”

When the assailant began shooting through a window looking on the schoolyard, Darifa started screaming, she said. The gunman told her to stop, to think of her Palestinian brothers and Syrian brothers, and to cry for them, she continued.

Prison May Have Made Belgian Attacker a Radical, Officials Say
Prison May Have Made Belgian Attacker a Radical, Officials Say

Unfazed, he then used Darifa as a human shield when the police arrived at the scene.

“I’m here to make people simmer and to be shown by the police,” he told Darifa. “I want to make them boil.”

And then, expressing a wish to die as a “martyr,” he ran outside and into a hail of police gunfire.

In addition to the terrorism investigation, Koen Geens, the justice minister, said the authorities were looking into the decisions that had led to Mr. Herman’s temporary release.

“I feel responsible,” Mr. Geens, who is responsible for prisons in the country, told state news outlets on Wednesday.

“Should this man have been released?” Mr. Geens asked. “In his wish to kill himself, he took three totally innocent people with him.”

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