Two people suspected of planning attacks in Brussels during the holiday season in Belgium were arrested by the security forces, very mobilized since the attacks of Paris and just days before the New Year.
Deemed “serious” threats of such attacks would target “several emblematic places of Brussels (…) during the holiday season,” said Tuesday the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office in a statement.
The arrests followed raids “unrelated to the attacks in Paris” conducted Sunday and Monday in the Brussels region in the Flemish Brabant (surrounding the capital) and Liège (eastern) “on demand a judge of instruction Brussels, specializing in terrorism “.
Six people in total were heard by the police, two people finally arrested. The other four were released.
One suspect was arrested for “threats of attacks, participation in the activities of a terrorist group as leader, and recruitment to commit terrorist offenses,” the other for “threats of attacks and participation the activities of a terrorist group, “said the prosecutor.
The judicial authorities, however, remain silent on the identity of suspects, not specifying neither their age nor nationality nor the exact location of their arrest while the investigation continues.
Military-style outfits and EI propaganda
No weapons or explosives were found during the searches. However Investigators found “hardware, military-style workout outfits and propaganda material of the Islamic State”, currently being examined.
In this context, the body that assesses the terrorist threat in Belgium, Ocam, noted Monday night the alert level to “police and military presence in Brussels, which could be symbolic targets,” said reported AFP spokesman.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, “in permanent contact with the security services” should not speak immediately, said his office told AFP, but the federal government “is following the situation very closely” .
The Belgian capital, home to the institutions of the European Union and NATO, has been placed on alert late November 3, like the rest of the territory is one notch below the maximum level.
She had been in maximum terror alert for six days in late November, face a risk of attack “serious and imminent”, putting the city virtually stopped.
Some 300 additional police officers had then been mobilized to protect the Brussels schools.
In an interview with the daily Le Soir published Tuesday, before the announcement of the arrests, the Interior Minister Jan Jambon stresses that the country will remain at level 3 “as long as necessary.”
Belgium is on the alert since the attacks of 13 November in Paris: several jihadists came from Brussels, one of the main suspects fled, Salah Abdeslam.
Hunted by all European policies, it is believed to have ferried the bombers of the Stade de France and then abandoned an explosive belt, before calling Brussels two friends who took him back to Belgium. His brother Brahim blew himself up outside a bar on November 13 evening.
“It reflects the fact that it could be in Belgium because it is one of the possibilities,” says Le Soir Jan Jambon, who watch also surprised at the extent of support Abdeslam Salah seems to enjoy “hide so long”.
In total, as part of the investigation into the attacks in Paris, nine people have been indicted in Belgium. Besides Salah Abdeslam, his friend Mohammed Abrini, who would have accompanied the French capital two days before the attacks, is also actively sought.