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Belgium reacts to news that a bombing suspect worked inside EU as a cleaner

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Yves Herman/Reuters

(Read caption) Belgian federal prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt speaks at a news conference about a suspect in the attack which took place at the Brussels International airport of Zaventem.

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One of the Islamic State operatives suspected of involvement with the bombings in Brussels last month was once a janitor for the European Union Parliament, an EU spokesman said Wednesday.

The suspect was employed by a company contracted to clean the EU parliament for a month in the summers of 2009 and 2010. The officials did not reveal which of the three identified suspects had held the job but one source identified him as Najim Laachraoui, the attacker who blew himself up at the Zaventem airport.

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The revelation comes on the heels of tight scrutiny on Belgium’s security, underscoring the widespread criticism that Brussels has fallen short on flagging security threats, following reports that linked the suspected Brussels perpetrators to the Paris attackers. The EU spokesman said that the former cleaner didn’t have a criminal record at the time he was employed by the EU.

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However, the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel admitted Wednesday that the attacks highlighted a security “failure.”

"When there is an attack like that of course that's a failure and nobody can deny this," said Michel according to the BBC.

“[But] I cannot accept the idea that we're a failed state."

The Belgian prime minister contended that the country’s geographical location renders it vulnerable to such attacks.

"We're a small country at the heart of Europe ... a hub from where one can easily organise attacks in other European countries,” said Michel, urging European countries to cooperate on security issues, the BBC reported.

"It is an easy place to organize attacks in other countries of Europe. It means we have to work better with our partners, and we have to upgrade our capacities for security."

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Lode Vanoost, the former deputy speaker of the Belgian Parliament also attributed the security shortcoming to the high number of immigrants seeking the low-paying jobs saying that the high volume of job-seekers overwhelms the vetting process, creating a security loophole for such perpetrators.

“Isn’t that ironic that we put so much emphasis on security in our society, but the people who actually have to do it [such as security guards] are mainly people who are badly paid, who hardly get a decent salary, decent working conditions,” Vanoost told RT, in an interview. “And after that you are surprised?”