Results tagged “Belgium”
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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.
Terrorist threats were made against targets in Brussels and Antwerp, including Antwerp's Central Station and the Atomium monument in Brussels, warning Muslims to avoid revelers on New Year's Eve. The threats were reportedly issued on the Facebook account of a Vilvoorde member of the banned Sharia4Belgium organization who is thought to have died in Syria.
Belgium said it was "not favourable" to having Syrian chemical weapons destroyed on its soil, but that it would help to make an inventory of the weapons. In recent weeks, politicians and the Belgian royal family have received email death threats and bomb warnings that appear to come from Islamists. Two of the targeted politicians have previously been involved in efforts to stop jihadists from traveling to Syria.
Prosecutors said Antwerp University was evacuated on Oct. 28 because of emails to faculty from a sender linked to a Muslim brotherhood who threatened to kill all unbelievers in Belgium. Last week a possibly related video surfaced, purportedly from Belgian jihadists in Syria. Suspected jihadist Jejoen Bontinck, who was recently arrested at his home in Antwerp after returning from Syria, remains in detention.
Authorities charged Jejoen Bontinck, a Belgian citizen and Muslim convert, for belonging to a terrorist group. Bontinck, who recently arrived in Belgium from Syria, is believed to have been recruited by the banned group Sharia4Belgium to fight with jihadists in Syria. His father, a former Belgian army officer, traveled twice to Syria to find him.
Six suspects have been arrested after rioting in the city of Houthalen in Limburg that injured a police officer. Police arrested notorious Somali pirate leader Mohammed Abdi Hassan a.k.a. Afweyne ("Loud Mouth") at Brussels airport upon arrival in Belgium; he and a high-ranking official in the Somali government, which is accused of protecting him, have both been detained. Security has been heightened since the extradition of convicted terrorist Nizar Trabelsi to the US to face terror charges.
Belgian police in Vilvoorde arrested Ismail Abdelatif Al Lal, a top financier for an al Qaeda-linked network based in Spain that sent Spanish and Moroccan jihadists to Syria. The head of the recruiting network was arrested on Sept. 16 in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, and eight other members were arrested in Ceuta in June.
Muslim activist Abou Jahjah announced his intention to return to Belgium after living in Lebanon for nearly 10 years. A leading Antwerp politician called for Jahjah to be arrested on his return, citing his links to Hezbollah and the fact that the UK has denied him entry.
Authorities in the Flemish cities of Antwerp and Vilvoorde discontinued welfare benefits for some 29 Belgian jihadists in Syria. The authorities had found that the jihadists were accessing their government benefits through banks in Turkey. In April the federal prosecutor's office said it was aware that 33 persons from Antwerp and Vilvoorde had traveled to Syria for jihad; almost all were linked to the Islamist group Sharia4Belgium, whose leader, Fouad Belcakem, remains in custody.
An investigation into allegations of abuse by female teachers at an Antwerp primary school has reportedly found that the claims were baseless and part of a hate campaign led by a former member of the banned Islamist group Sharia4Belgium. The mayor of Antwerp said last month that 22 Islamists from Antwerp with ties to Sharia4Belgium had gone to Syria for jihad. Abdel Rahman Ayachi, the son of Belgian extremist cleric Sheikh Bassam Ayachi, was killed last month in Syria while leading a group of 500 to 600 rebels.