17 terrorism suspects arrested in Belgium

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Bus with soldiers of the Belgian Army.

Following a two-year investigation into far right political activists, the lead suspect of which was a member of the Belgian military, police have made a series of arrests at barracks, soldiers' homes and civilians' homes across Belgium. Those arrested are suspected of plotting terrorist attacks to disrupt the country.

During the raids, police found home-made bombs, large quantities of ammunition, firearms, detonators and other equipment, along with Nazi symbols and extremist literature. Belgium's federal prosecutors' office has said that those arrested are "soldiers and people with an extreme-right ideology who clearly express themselves through racism, xenophobia, Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism". The prime suspect is a member of a Flemish splinter group of Blood and Honour, a militant neo-Nazi network.

Of the 17 arrested, 10 were within the military, and they had been stockpiling "a slew of weapons". The alleged leader is thought to have recruited like-minded fellows since 2004 and to have organised paramilitary trainings, survival weekends and firearms practice for them. Some of the trainings took place on army grounds, without the knowledge of the General Staff. The federal prosecuter said the arrests were set off by an increase in the group's weapons traffic. Police also say they have evidence that the faction was in touch with a similar group in the Netherlands. No plans for a specific attack were uncovered, but detectives say there was a model letter to claim attacks.

The arrests were part of a coordinated campaign and involved raids with over 100 police officers on 18 private addresses plus 5 military locations.