Belgium New Year’s Eve Terror Plot: Belgium Terror Arrests
Published: December 29, 2015
Belgium New Year’s Eve Terror Plot: Belgium Terror Arrests, The Belgian authorities have arrested two people in connection with a plot to attack Brussels around New Year’s Eve, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
In a series of raids on Sunday and Monday around Brussels, the surrounding Flemish-speaking region of Brabant, and the city of Liège, the authorities found Islamic State propaganda and military-style hardware and computer equipment in the homes of the two suspects.
Investigators say they believe that the two suspects being held “were possibly planning” and “had the intention to carry out” terrorist attacks on Brussels’s city center “in the same style” as the coordinated series of attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office said.
No arms or explosives were discovered, prosecutors said, the authorities did not identify the suspects, and they have not established any links to the Paris attacks. Four other people were held for questioning before being released.
The authorities said they had found evidence of “serious threats” to multiple locations in Brussels, including the Police Headquarters for the city center and the nearby central square known as the Grand Place or Grote Markt. It is the city’s biggest tourist attraction, and it is packed with crowds around Christmas.
One suspect, who is believed to be the lead plotter, is expected to be charged with leading a terrorist organization and recruiting others for terrorist purposes. The other suspect is likely to be charged as a participant in a terrorist organization.
Brussels’s alert level was raised to the highest one possible for several days after the November attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people and were carried out mainly by attackers who had connections to Belgium.
The national crisis center, which sets the alert level based on its analysis of potential threats, said on Tuesday that the authorities believed that police officers and soldiers in Brussels might be “specifically targeted” for attack.
In response, the police have adopted new security measures. Officers now patrol in groups of two or more, with at least one member armed, around the headquarters. Members of the police force will be allowed to wear bulletproof vests while traveling to and from work.
The city has since returned to relative normalcy, with the Belgian broadcaster VRT reporting that the city planned to proceed with fireworks for New Year’s Eve, but the Brussels City Council will discuss new security measures as raids and arrests continue on a weekly basis.
Nine men have been charged in Belgium in connection with the Paris attacks, and a global manhunt continues for Salah Abdeslam, a Belgian-born Frenchman who is believed to be the only survivor among those who directly participated in the attacks.
One week after the attacks in Paris, the Belgian authorities expressed concern that the threat of a similar terrorist attack in Brussels was “serious and imminent.”
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