According to the federal prosecutor’s office, Belgian police detained eight persons nationwide during counterterrorism raids to prevent potential attacks.
On Monday night, at the request of an investigating court, the federal police of Antwerp conducted five searches in Merksem, Borgerhout, Deurne, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, and Eupen.
Although the prosecutor’s office stated that five people had been detained, it did not mention what had been discovered.
“At least two of the participants are thought to be plotting a terrorist act in Belgium. According to the prosecution, the attack’s target has not yet been identified.
In the meantime, as part of a different investigation, the federal police in Brussels conducted raids in the surrounding communities of Zaventem, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, and Schaerbeek, where they detained three people.
The office stated that “these individuals are also suspected of intending to conduct a terrorist act in Belgium.” There are connections between the two incidents, but more research is necessary to determine how closely related they were.
Belgian television station RTBF claimed that the initial focus of the cases in Brussels and Antwerp was on two young adults suspected of being violent radicals. Investigations uncovered linkages between the two and people who might be hazardous, gravitating in their vicinity.
The independent center evaluating the risk of terrorism and extremism in Belgium has classified the current threat as a medium, or level 2, on a scale of one to four.
The arrests took place as suspects in a cell believed to have been responsible for the worst assaults in peacetime on Belgian territory seven years ago are on trial in Belgium. Regarding March 22, 2016, morning rush hour attacks at Belgium’s main airport and on the central commuter line, the defendants are accused of murder, attempted murder, and membership in or participation in terrorist crimes.
In addition to the 32 fatalities that day in Brussels, about 900 individuals were hurt or emotionally damaged.
Salah Abdeslam, the sole survivor of the extremists from the Islamic State group who attacked the Bataclan theater in Paris, city cafes, and the national stadium of France in 2015, is one of the defendants. Due to the horrors in the French capital, he was given a life sentence without the possibility of release.