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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.




Europe Tries to Stop Flow of Citizens Joining Jihad




Belgium, Netherlands to offer fighter jets for ISIS strikes




5 with suspected terror ties arrested in Europe




A Belgian news report said authorities have foiled several terrorist attacks in Belgium and arrested a number of suspects who had returned from fighting with the Islamic State in Syria. While up to 400 Belgians are reported to have gone to Syria to join the IS, the actual number is thought to be higher, and about 90 are known to have returned. Authorities detained a jihadist group in Antwerp this summer that had acquired weapons and was planning attacks in Belgium. One of the targets being considered by jihadists was the European Union headquarters in Brussels.




Europe needs to coordinate its anti-jihadist measures




A 13-year-old Belgian boy is said to have joined the ranks of the Islamic State earlier this year along with his 27-year-old brother. Authorities disclosed that the laptop of Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo was stolen from his official car on Aug. 18, but they claim it did not contain state secrets. After the Muslim Executive of Belgium was criticized by an Antwerp politician on Aug. 19 for not distancing itself from the Islamic State's barbarism, the organization issued a statement saying that IS' criminal acts have nothing to do with Islam, and "strongly condemn[ing] the activities of certain youngsters that support the Islamic State."




Authorities are investigating the possibility that two explosions in March that put a major power transformer in Hainault out of order may have been caused by sabotage, as reports emerged that sabotage caused a nuclear reactor in Doel to shut down. Four of eight Belgian reactors are out of operation through the end of this year, reducing Belgium's energy supply by 25% and forcing the government to warn municipalities of power shortages this winter.




Antisemitism on rise across Europe 'in worst times since the Nazis'




A court remanded Mehdi Nemmouche, a French-Algerian jihadist suspected in the killing of four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels, to a month in custody after charging him with "murder in a terrorist context." Authorities are continuing their investigation of the suspect, who spent over a year fighting in the ranks of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham in Syria.




Authorities have announced the arrest of a 25-year-old Syrian man who arrived at Charleroi Airport in Brussels with two false French passports and a USB stick with video of jihadist killings and propaganda. The man was arrested on Aug. 1 on suspicion of belonging to the Al Nusrah Front; his lawyer claimed the suspect was actually a journalist who had been held hostage by the terrorist group.




Of the 66 Belgians known to be in Libya, seven left on aboard a Greek ship, 10 told the Belgian Embassy they wanted to leave, and 50 dual nationals prefer to remain in the troubled country. Last month Luxembourg police working with Spanish counterterrorism authorities arrested Belgian national Abou Nouh a.k.a. Davide De Angelis, a former jihadist in Syria who served as a facilitator for an Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham recruiting network that funneled fighters to Syria and Mali.




Mehdi Nemmouche, a Frenchman accused of killing four people in an attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels on May 24, has been extradited from France to Belgium. The French-Algerian suspect had fought in Syria and lived in Molenbeek before the attack. The mayor of Antwerp said that at least 4,000 to 5,000 people from the Schengen zone have fought in Syria and now pose a threat to Europe. He called for better coordination between European member states and within Belgian security agencies to address the threat.




A court ordered 46 members of Sharia4Belgium to face trial on terrorism charges, including the group's leader, Fouad Belkacem, and 15 other top operatives. Only eight of the 46 are currently in Belgium; the other 38 are thought to have gone to Syria. The outlawed group Sharia4Belgium was reportedly dissolved in 2012 but authorities believe it has continued to operate, sending fighters to Syria.




Analysis: Blowback from the Syrian jihad has begun

In well over a dozen countries, evidence has emerged that jihadists who trained or fought in Syria are engaging in terrorist activities in their home countries and elsewhere.


A gunman opened fire on visitors at a Jewish museum in Brussels, killing two women and a man, and seriously injuring a fourth victim, before fleeing in a car with another person. Twelve other people were hospitalized for shock following the incident. An election truck belonging to a nationalist politician was gutted in a suspected arson attack.




Syrian moderates try to rebuild opposition force




Belgium, Allies Try to Halt Flow of Young Islamist Fighters to Syria




Authorities confirmed that four young women left the cities of Antwerp and Sint Niklaas in March for Syria, ostensibly to provide humanitarian aid relief. One of the women has reportedly informed her family that she got married after arriving in Syria.




Belgium raised its terror alert level to "high" as a result of the planned visit of US President Barack Obama and visits by other dignitaries between March 20 and April 3 for the European Union's summit on Africa. A Belgian security official said no threats have been perceived and that the heightened alert is "the normal response" to the forthcoming visits by foreign officials.


 
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