Belgium detains four linked to extremist group in multi-city counterterrorist raids

The Belgian Center for the Analysis of Terrorism Threats (OCAD) released a report on Friday indicating a 41 percent surge in terrorism and extremism threats over the past year.

Belgium detains four linked to extremist group in multi-city counterterrorist raids
AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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On a Sunday morning, four men, three of whom are minors, suspected of links to an extremist Islamist group were detained by counter-terrorism officials.

The arrests took place across four cities in Belgium, including Brussels, Charleroi, Ninove, and Liège, where law enforcement conducted raids on various residences. Despite the absence of weapons or explosives, the individuals were reportedly coordinating via a messaging app to organize a terrorist attack. The operation, as reported by RTBF, was a preventive action by the authorities to thwart a possible attack.

The Belgian Center for the Analysis of Terrorism Threats (OCAD) released a report on Friday indicating a 41 percent surge in terrorism and extremism threats over the past year.

Islamist extremism accounted for over 40 percent of these incidents, while the ideological motives behind the remaining cases remained unclear. The report highlighted that the bulk of these threats were posed by individuals acting alone, with organized groups being responsible for only a minor fraction.

OCAD documented 332 instances of terrorism or extremism in 2023, an increase from 236 the year before. This uptick in terror threats was attributed to “significant emotional events,” including the Gaza conflict and the Brussels terror incident in October, which resulted in the death of two Swedish football supporters.

Although a majority of these reports were deemed low risk, OCAD identified 7 percent as extremely serious, elevating Belgium's overall security threat to Level 3 (severe). Following the October incident, the most critical threat level, Level 4, was temporarily enforced in the Brussels area.

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