Isis: Suspected recruiters and supporters arrested in crackdown on new terror cell in Belgium

Police search 15 houses in operation against group planning to travel to Syria

Lizzie Dearden
Wednesday 19 October 2016 14:17 BST
Police officers take part in an operation in Schaerbeek - Schaarbeek, Brussels, late on March 24, 2016
Police officers take part in an operation in Schaerbeek - Schaarbeek, Brussels, late on March 24, 2016 (AFP/Getty Images)

A suspected terror cell has been arrested in Belgium as authorities continue hunting down Isis supporters.

A new wave of police raids were launched on Tuesday morning, seeing officers search 15 homes in Ghent, Deinze and Antwerp as part of an operation coordinated by Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre.

The federal prosecutor’s office said 15 people were taken for questioning, including four who have subsequently charged with terror offences.

“Those persons have been indicted because of participation in the activities of a terrorist group, amongst others its funding,” a spokesperson said.

“Some of them are suspected of recruiting people with a view to departing to Syria and joining Islamic State [Isis] there.”

No guns nor explosives were found and officials said no link had yet been established to the attacks on Brussels Airport and Maalbeek Metro station on 22 March.

The massacres, which killed 32 people, were carried out by the same “super cell” of jihadis who carried out the Paris attacks in November.

Mohamed Abrini, an accomplice of the Paris attackers, was among the Brussels bombers after evading detection by security forces for more than four months.

He was a childhood friend of fellow suspect Salah Abdeslam, whose brother Brahim blew himself up on the Boulevard Voltaire during the Paris attacks.

The pair grew up in Molenbeek, now notorious as a “breeding ground” for extremism, while several other suspects were Belgian and used the country to prepare the atrocities in both Paris and Brussels.

The revelations turned international scrutiny on Belgium’s security services, with interior minister Jan Jambon admitting “inexcusable” blunders with the handling of intelligence.

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