Belgian police announced an investigation after photographs surfaced of two men celebrating in the autopsy room of two dead terrorists.
The terrorists died during anti-terrorism raids in January. The police claim the raid “disrupted” planned attacks in the country similar to the one on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France. The pictures show two men “celebrating, drinking champagne and taking selfies.” Surgical masks hide their faces.
Liège Attorney General Christian De Valkeneer insisted media reports of a party in the photographs were inaccurate. He did condemn the men in the pictures and deemed their behavior “unacceptable.” He said it is possible the two men involved are police officers. However, Interior Minister Jan Jambon and police commissioner Catherine De Bolle maintain the men are not police officers.
The dead bodies are indeed confirmed to be Soufiane Amghar and Khalid Ben Larbi.
Reports indicate the authorities will be “handling the case with sensitivity fearful of a backlash in a small country with a significant Muslim population that has proved unusually fertile breeding ground for Islamist militants who travel to fight in the Middle East.” In late May, a Belgian court convicted seven women for supporting the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and enticing other young females to join the terrorist group.
Authorities arrested a Frenchman, who spent time in Syria with radical Islamists, a few days later. They pursued charges against the group Sharia4Belgium in the wake of the attack, which led to the arrest of 46 people, including Nabil Kasmi, 23, who received training in Syria. His trial, along with 45 other members, started in September 2014.
Authorities believe this group is a main reason why Belgium breeds many jihadists, since “it created a logistical glide path for would-be jihadists who went from Belgium’s rolling countryside to the arid deserts of Syria.” The use of social media allowed those who did not travel to connect with Muslims in Syria.
“They were using Facebook, using pictures of the villa they were living in,” described E.U. Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove. “They tried to advertise it was the ultimate place with swimming pools and easy living.”