BELGiAN 2004 CELL
On 06/07/2004 night the Belgian police raided and arrested 20 suspects in Brussels and Antwerp of belonging to the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group – (CICM) network in Europe and of assisting terror attacks in Europe, such as the Madrid Trains Bombing and planning an attack on the Philips Tower, an office block in the center of Brussels, Belgium’s capital.
The Belgian 04 cell was a regrouping of the Belgium cell after the arrest of Nizar Trabelsi and Tarek Maaroufi in late 2001 under the leadership of an elusive figure and explosive expert Abdelhakim Gouram. The cell members were in contact with Moussa Zemmouri, who was captured in Afghanistan in operation “Absolute Justice” and is detained in Guantanamo, and with the Tunisian Essid Sami Ben Khemais, the operational head of the Milan 01 Cell who was arrested already in 04/2001 in Italy.
The Belgian 04 cell was under the Belgian security services watch from 03/2002. The surveillance revealed that the cell was indirectly assisting the Madrid Trains Bombing by raising money and providing forged documents. They also recruited volunteers and suicide bombers to the war in Iraq. One of the possible suicide bombers, Mourad Shabaro, was in direct phone connection with Rabei Osman Ahmed in Italy.
After the Madrid Trains Bombing the Belgian 04 cell was arrested in full timing and coordination with the Italian, Spanish and French police. Abdelhakim Gouram, the ringleader, managed to escape and his deeds or whereabouts remain unknown to the authorities in Europe.
Among the detainees were: Saber Mohammed, who admitted to be in frequent phone connection with Khalid Shaik Mohammed in Afghanistan; Youssef El Moumen and his two brothers who purchased weapon and hand grenades illegally for the cell in Belgium; Mourad Shabaro, the would be suicide bomber and, most likely, also an informant for the Belgian Security Service and others.
On 09/13/2004 Tarek Maaroufi; Moroccans Driss Elatellah, Yousef El Moumem, Tarik Karim and an Iraqi Kurd Saber Mohammed were convicted and sentenced to 5 years in Jail. The court sentenced three to lesser terms, suspended judgment of one and acquitted another.
On 02/17/2006, in another trial, Abdelkader Hakimi and Houssine el-Haski were convicted of funding terror and were sentenced for 7 years imprisonment. Moustafa Lounani was convicted of recruiting activists for the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group – (CICM) and sentenced to 6 years in Jail. Another top suspect – Khalid Bouloudou, 30, was accused of being a local organizer in Belgium for the group. He received 5 years imprisonment
All the other defendants were convicted on charges like fraud and money laundering and were sentenced up to 3 years in prison.
The Terror Act in Belgium is valid from 12/31/2003. Most of the actions of the Belgian 04 cell were done earlier and they were judged under the regular criminal code in Belgium and not in accordance to the 2003 Belgian Terror Act.
On 06/17/2005 the Belgian police announced the exposure, near Brussels, of a large dump of weapons and explosives, the largest ever found in Belgium. The dump included also a number of anti-tank shoulder missiles. According to the serial numbers of the missiles the dump is connected to the Al Qaeda’s BELGIUM cell and possible also the Belgian 04 Cell, since the two cells were connected to each other.
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