Belgium remained on high alert one day after sweeping anti-terror raids. Two suspects were killed, and more than a dozen arrested. Authorities said they foiled a plot to carry out attacks targeting police. CCTV’s Jack Barton reported this story from Brussels.
Belgium arrests 13 in alleged terror plot, country on high alertBelgium remained on high alert one day after sweeping anti-terror raids. Two suspects were killed, and more than a dozen arrested. Authorities said they foiled a plot to carry out attacks targeting police. CCTV's Jack Barton reported this story from Brussels.
As night fell on Thursday Belgian police raided a dozen locations across the country in a bid to destroy a suspected terror cell as well as its entire support network.
In the eastern Belgian town of Verviers, a gunfight erupted as police stormed an apartment above a bakery
“I heard them yell ‘Let’s go.’ They ran and went into the apartment. Then there was gunfire coming from everywhere, and there were explosions. It went really quickly,” Emric Bertholet, a witness to the raid said.
In total, 13 terror suspects were apprehended across Belgium and another two in France, with more arrests expected. The country’s federal prosecutor said the group was planning to launch imminent attacks targeting police.
“During the special warrants, we found several weapons, among them were four AK47s, several small fire weapons, fire arms, ammunition, and explosives. Moreover, we found several police uniforms, material for communication, radios, mobile cellphones, and important amount of money,” Eric Van Der Sypt a Belgian federal prosecutor said.
In May, Belgium became the first European country to be hit by a terrorist attack carried out by an extremist who had returned from fighting in Syria. The gunman killed four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels.
Authorities have previously estimated that about 300 Belgians have fought or are still fighting with jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, though intelligence officials privately said that number is likely to be much higher.
It’s not known exactly how many have returned home. Belgium has raised its security alert to its second highest level though the country’s prime minister described the move as precautionary, saying an attack was not expected.
In Belgium, there was no obvious increase in security on Friday, and there was calm on the streets.
“We feel safe. I think above all we should not be scared. If we start panicking, then we are playing the terrorist’s game,” one resident said who did not give a name.
Officials said several of the suspects arrested in Belgium were believed to have fought with the Islamic State group in Syria, which authorities believe was also behind the planned attack in Belgium.
James Carafano of Heritage Foundation discusses Europe’s terror risks
CCTV America interviewed James Carafano about Europe’s terror risks and the continent’s recent crackdown on extremism. Carafano is the vice president for national security and foreign policy at The Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, D.C.