Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Europe-wide terrorism arrests after plans for attack on Belgium

The suspects were of Belgian, Dutch, Moroccan and Russian nationality. Other arrests have previously been made in Spain, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
Belgian prosecutors said "there was talk of plans for an attack in Belgium by an international jihadist organization" which used the website Ansar al-Mujahideen, a leading jihadi forum.
The police also targeted "the recruiters, candidate jihadists and financing" for the Caucasus Emirate, which aims to establish an Islamic emirate in Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia.
Seven suspects were arrested in Belgium, two in the Netherlands and one in Germany.
Pictures on Belgian television showed heavily armed police making a dawn raid in the northern port of Antwerp and detaining at least two people, including a woman.
Germany's Federal Criminal Police said one person was arrested near Aachen at the request of Belgian authorities, in connection with suspicion of recruiting young men in Belgium to fight in Chechnya.
Dutch prosecutors said they had detained three men aged 25, 26 and 28 in Amsterdam at the request of Belgian authorities on suspicion of involvement in international terrorism. The Dutch National Prosecutor's Office said Austria was also involved in the operation.
The raid followed an investigation launched by authorities in the northern Belgian city of Antwerp in late 2009. The arrests were not linked to the recent reports of possible terrorist attacks in Germany, sources said.
The Ansar al-Mujahideen website printed a statement in September referring to the arrest of Abu Hafes al-Maghrebi in Spain.
Al-Maghrebi was said to be the administrator of the site’s Arabic forum, which boasts more than 3,700 users. It also has forums in English and German and has grown to be one of the leading jihadi websites.
“According to the enemy, by the arrest of our brother, may Allah make him steadfast, they have been able to mute the voice of one of the platforms of truth,” the statement said. “However, when they realised that this is not the case, they attacked the network's server.”
Evan Kohlmann, who has monitored Ansar al-Mujahideen, wrote in a US military publication, the Counter-Terrorism Sentinel, in February about a Moroccan and a Saudi resident who were using the site to plan a trip to join fighters in Somalia.
“Ansar al-Mujahideen network has become a key beacon for lone wolf extremists originating from a wide array of communities, including Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America,” he more


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