Escaped from prison two years ago, then committed another million-dollar robbery and has now been arrested 5,000 kilometers away

He was free for almost three years, but Ibrahim Akhlal was arrested a week ago. In Conakry, the capital of West African Guinea, actually. The 27-year-old man had sought refuge there, after escaping from the prison of Sint-Gillis in 2020, and participating in a particularly spectacular robbery in the Netherlands in 2021. Of which four million euros of the loot has still not been found…

Akhlal was convicted four times in our country for serious robberies, and had to serve a prison sentence of a total of 21 years in the prison of Sint-Gillis. However, the man did not feel like it, and in March 2020 he escapes.

Akhlal escaped from Saint Gilles prison in 2020 © MARC HERREMANS – MEDIA HOUSE

Spectacular robbery failed due to a brutal dose of bad luck

Akhlal only resurfaced a little over a year later: on May 19, 2021, he and ten other Belgian, French and Dutch suspects participated in a robbery of a security transport of gold, silver and jewelery worth tens of millions of euros in the north of Amsterdam. They are about to be transferred to an armored car from Brink’s, the world’s largest security transporter. But the robbers don’t let it get that far. The guards have to lie on their stomachs, and automatic rifles are fired into the air to keep bystanders at a distance.

However, the robbers have a brutal dose of bad luck: what they don’t know is that a police patrol is just around the corner. Those officers hear the shots, and immediately put on their body armor. Meanwhile, the police control center is called flat by neighbors who have heard shots. All possible men are sent to the scene and a police helicopter, which happened to be in the air about ten minutes away, also heads for the robbery.

Shooting in field

The heavily armed gangsters immediately take off in three cars. The first patrol car immediately gives chase. They are shot at with Kalashnikovs, the bullets of which go straight through the doors. But the cops are not so easily fobbed off, and fire back. The robbers try to shake them loose by splitting up. One of the getaway cars heads north and continues firing at the police. That car is later found burning in Diemen near Amsterdam, the police can arrest one suspect.

The two other getaway cars stopped in Broek in Waterland, a village north of Amsterdam, to transfer the loot to another car. But they don’t have that time: not only the local police officers surround the place, also heavily armed agents from the Special Interventions Service and the Rapid Response Team are in the party. And the helicopter never loses sight of the perpetrators. In a desperate attempt, the men set out to run across a field. Bullets fly in all directions. One of the perpetrators is killed. Another robber tries to hide in a garbage can, but the helicopter’s thermal camera quickly reveals his hiding place.

The robbery ended in a field north of Amsterdam. ©  AFP

Ultimately, a total of six suspects are arrested. But four suspects do escape. A first was arrested in November 2021 by the Serbian police. Remains on the run: Ibrahim Akhlal. And is not found either: 4 million euros of the loot (which amounted to 14.5 million in total). “These are specific materials that are difficult to trade,” the police said at the time. For example, five barrels with a total of 80 kilograms of platinum were sought, as well as one and a half kilograms of gold grains, a few molten gold bars, and a suitcase full of scrap such as gold rings.


After the robbery, the Dutch police will still distribute a search notice for the fugitive suspects – who were filmed while they were walking around in a dead mood on the street in Rotterdam – and had Akhlal signaled internationally, among others. A year without success.

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Until the Belgian FAST team and the Brussels judicial police tracked down the man in… Conakry, the capital of West African Guinea. There Akhlal could be arrested by the Guinean judicial police last Friday night when he was on his way to a nightclub. Belgium has now requested the man’s extradition.

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