Brahim Abdeslam and Salah Abdeslam | EPA and Getty Images

Belgian police knew since 2014 that Abdeslam brothers planned ‘irreversible act’

Damning report into Belgian response to Paris attacks shows sloppiness and lack of resources.

Belgian police had information as early as mid-2014 that Paris attackers Salah and Brahim Abdeslam intended to carry out “an irreversible act,” according to a classified police watchdog’s report on the country’s response to the Paris attacks.

Brahim Abdeslam blew himself up in Paris last November during the attacks that killed 130 people, while Salah fled and was captured in Brussels last month, four days before the terror attacks in Brussels.

The conclusions of the report, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, says the brothers’ radicalization, links to Paris attacks mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and their intention to commit some sort of act were known to Belgian security forces well before the attacks.

The police’s anti-terror unit argued that it could not file a report on the brothers into the central police database because it could not be established with certainty which brother was involved.

But the watchdog questions that argument, saying the names of both Abdeslam brothers, who lived in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, were already in the database.

The report highlights sloppiness by individuals, limited resources and a lack of procedural guidance for officials dealing with highly sensitive information.

“Nothing was done with the dossiers after the drafting of the transcript [containing information about the pair],” the report states, explaining that the dossiers remained untouched due to “capacity issues” and that “no one took ownership.”

“Consequently, up until the attacks in Paris nothing happened.”

Police were also in possession of computers, USB sticks and telephone data pertaining to the Abdeslam brothers since February 2015, but did not use that information “not even after Paris, or very recently.”

Belgian prosecutors’ request to tap the phone calls and emails of the Abdeslam brothers was turned down by police because of a lack of resources, Le Soir reported Tuesday. The request was made to the anti-terror unit after the brothers were questioned by authorities in early 2015 on suspicion of planning to travel to Syria. Prosecutors then sought backing for the phone taps from other police units but were again turned down.

On April 21, 2015, police decided that the Abdeslams’ file did not need following up.

The report was drafted by Comité P, a watchdog which has examined potential police failings in the lead up to the November 13 Paris attacks. It was described as “highly classified” by several government sources contacted by POLITICO.

The top of each page features the words “Eyes Only” and it was only intended to be seen by a select group of MPs, who were banned from taking notes and could not take a copy of the report from the room.

Vince Chadwick, Willem Vancutsem and Hanne Cokelaere contributed to this article.