Prosecutor investigates possible terrorist training camps in Belgium

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Belgian Federal prosecutor Johan Delmulle has said in an interview published in the Flemish newspaper De Tijd today that the Federal police are investigating a possible terrorist group that recruits Belgians to commit suicide attacks in Iraq.

According to Delmulle, the Federal police started a record 106 new terrorism inquiries last year, compared to 89 in 2005, and 134 between 2004 and 2002. The trend also confirms itself in 26 cases that were handed over to the courts in 2006, compared to 14 the year before. The majority, i.e. 17 of those cases, concerned terrorist cells that were located in the capital city of Brussels.

The cases drew from 318 messages of possible terrorist activities that were received in 2006. Every single case was reviewed carefully, according to Delmulle: "We treat every report as if a real terrorist attack was pending. The margin of error has to be zero." In an interview with TV-station VTM, Delmulle attributed the increasing reports on terrorism to the increased attention for the phenomenon, and not to an increased terror threat.

The federal prosecutor told De Tijd that Belgium mostly has to deal with "sleeping terrorist cells":

Those cells will not immediately become operational here [in Belgium, ed.], but they often offer logistic support to operational cells abroad. For example, they deliver false documents or help persons ex- [sic.] or infiltrate from and to areas of increased risk, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. There is even an ongoing judicial investigation about a cell that recruits Belgian subjects here to commit suicide attacks in Iraq.

Delmulle told VTM he wanted the next Justice Minister to deal with the fact that the names of investigators are mentioned in judicial files. According to the prosecutor, people in the terrorist environment are trying to get a hold on names and locations of inspectors, information about their families and so on, which in turn leads to actual threats. Delmulle himself has been under police protection for the last 5 months because he is the prosecutor in the case of Ferye Erdal and other members of the Turkish resistance group DHKPC.