Police have taken nine people in counter-terror raids carried out on 10 properties in Brussels today as part of a campaign targeting a suspected Islamic State recruitment network.
Armed Belgian police raided the nine properties early this morning in the districts of Molenbeek, Schaerbeek, Koekelberg and Etterbeek on the orders of a Liège examining magistrate, reports Flanders News.
A Belgian federal prosecutor confirmed the raids targeted an Islamic State recruitment network looking to draft fighters for the terrorist group, and were not directly related to last November’s Paris attacks. They resulted from evidence the judge had regarding several people from Belgium who went to Syria to become jihadi fighters.
According to The Independent, among western European countries Belgium reportedly has the highest number of extremists per capita fighting for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, with numbers estimated at around 500.
During the searches executed by the police, computer equipment and mobile phones were seized which are now being examined by authorities.
In the interests of the ongoing prosecution investigators will not be releasing any more information, but the examining magistrate will reportedly decide later if any of the suspects who were taken for questioning will actually be arrested.
The raids are merely the latest in a string of terror-linked incidents witnessed by the Belgian capital in recent years. Several suspects allegedly connected to November’s terrorist attacks in Paris lived in Brussels, including the troubled Molenbeek district in which some of the raids occurred.
Brussels itself was placed under the highest level terror threat from 21 November to 26 November, during which time bars, restaurants, museums, shops and even schools were restricted in opening times or closed, and the entire metro system was shut down.
A month later the Mayor of Brussels cancelled his city’s annual New Year’s fireworks display due to the ongoing terrorist threat hanging over it, declaring: “It is better not to take risks.”
More recently, Breitbart London reported that Donald Trump, the front-running U.S. Presidential candidate for the Republican Party, declared that once “so beautiful”, living in Brussels now is “like living in a hell hole” because of the lack of “assimilation” by the Muslim population.