Results tagged “Belgium”
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Police arrested 15 people in a dozen raids yesterday in Brussels and Vervier who are suspected of planning to attack police stations and kill officers; police uniforms, guns, explosives, and cash were seized during the raids. Terrorism charges were filed against five people. Some of the suspects had fought in Syria, and "most" were said to be Belgian. Two suspects were arrested in France, but Belgian authorities said the investigation had begun before last week's terrorist attacks in Paris. The government announced new antiterrorism measures. Authorities estimate that 300-350 people have left Belgium to fight for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq.
Two or three people are said to have been killed and several others arrested when counterterrorism forces conducted a raid in Vervier against a suspected Islamic State cell. The cell members were said to be planning attacks in Europe at the direction of Islamic State commanders; the jihadists had recently returned from Syria. Other raids were reportedly taking place in Brussels, Molenbeek, and Vilvorde. Authorities arrested a man in Charleroi on arms charges that may relate to last week's terrorist attacks in Paris.
Police arrested a 52-year-old man for threatening to bomb a Belgian newspaper because he did not like its coverage of last week's terrorist attacks in Paris; he was previously convicted of arson against a right-wing political party. About 20,000 people marched in Brussels yesterday against extremism and attacks on free speech. Authorities are seeking to tap phone calls of suspected terrorists and to take further measures against the radicalization of inmates in Belgian prisons.
The judges in the Sharia4Belgium case postponed the verdict until Feb. 11; Fouad Belkacem, the chief suspect among 46 defendants, is accused of recruiting jihadists to fight in Syria. A judge extended the detention of Jejoen Bontinck, a defendant and key witness in the case who was recently arrested while trying to fly to Turkey. Home Minister Jambon called for stricter enforcement of border checks within the EU's Schengen zone. The mayor of Antwerp proposed that the Belgian Army begin carrying out guard duty and surveillance in order to help prevent terrorist attacks.
Police arrested eight people suspected of throwing petrol bombs last night at a police station in the Laken area of Brussels. Prime Minister Michel ordered a security review in the wake of today's terrorist attack in Paris. A hospital in Antwerp province is purchasing bulletproof vests for its ambulance staff to protect them from "an increasing number of aggressive patients."
Former Syrian jihadist Jejoen Bontinck, a defendant and witness in an ongoing trial against Sharia4Belgium, was arrested at the airport in Brussels as he was attempting to fly to Turkey with his girlfriend. Interior Minister Jambon said Belgium is planning to launch a deradicalization program to discourage would-be jihadists, after being asked to do so by the European Union.
Authorities in Dendermonde said a drone was seen flying over the Doel nuclear power plant yesterday, a day after one of the plant's reactors came back online. On Dec. 7, André Vandoren, director of the antiterrorism unit OCAD, said an investigation into damage at the Doel 4 nuclear plant in August pointed to the possibility it was an act of terrorism. About 20 drones have been seen over French nuclear plants in the past few months.
Security was heightened during the trial of 46 members of the terrorist group Sharia4Belgium in Antwerp on Oct. 27 after reports surfaced that defendant Fouad Belcakem was planning to escape. The trial against the terrorist group, which is suspected of sending fighters to Syria, began on Sept. 29. Only eight defendants were present; the other 38 were said to be in Syria.
Authorities arrested a man on blackmail charges for last week threatening a Brussels businessman with beheading if he did not come up with 50,000 euros to help jihadists traveling to Syria; the prosecutor's office said it was unclear whether the incident was terrorism-related. Belgian fighter jets began carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq on Oct. 9.