ANTWERP TERROR PLOT THWARTED
A group of terror suspects arrested in Belgium were planning attacks in crowded places, including the main railway station in Antwerp, the country’s second-largest city, local media reported on Tuesday 05/26/2016, citing sources close to the investigation.
Four alleged jihadists, aged between 16 and 19, were arrested on Wednesday 05/25/2016 in and around Dutch-speaking Antwerp on suspicion of planning an attack, prosecutors said Wednesday. The individuals were also suspected of recruiting people to travel to conflict zones in Syria or Libya.
The four suspects were charged with “participating in the activities of a terrorist group,” the prosecutor said. The suspects were apparently planning attacks in crowded places in Antwerp, including the city’s main railway station, Flemish news outlets reported.
Belgian broadcaster RTBF specified that “four adults and several minors” were arrested during raids in eight locations in and around Antwerp. Nieuwsblad newspaper said there were six suspects detained, adding that they planned suicide attacks. The raids found no explosives or weapons at the locations where the suspects were detained. Shortly after the detention, three of the suspects were released – one was made to wear an electronic bracelet, while two others were freed on “strict” conditions, according to the judge, AFP reported. It was not clarified what exactly was meant by “strict” conditions.
The suspects were also reportedly in contact with Hicham Chaib , also known as Abu Hanifa al-Baljiki (The Belgian), a former member of extremist group Sharia4Belgium. Chaïb is responsible for countless executions carried out for Islamic State.
More than 500 recruits from Belgium have gone abroad to fight with the jihadists since 2010. The UN says 207 Belgians have traveled to Syria, while 62 were denied entry, 128 have returned home, and 77 have died fighting abroad. The UN team also revealed that 46 foreign fighters, all associated with Sharia4Belgium, have been prosecuted.
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