Belgian authorities have confirmed the arrest of a Syrian national last month in the French-speaking city of Verviers, stating that the migrant is suspected of terrorist offences.
Eric Van Duyse, the spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office, told reporters on Monday that several bladed weapons, including a machete, were found in the possession of the Syrian along with a gas cartridge pistol and other replica weapons, broadcaster RTL reports.
“The person was arrested on December 14,” Van Duyse said. He added: “But the investigation did not reveal any trace of a specific target or a real plan for an attack. Let’s say that his activities were worrying, to say the least. On the side of the federal prosecution, we try to work as far upstream as possible.”
The Syrian is expected to be taken before a court in mid-January and is also said to have possessed pro-jihadist media and propaganda and had searched the internet for how to manufacture explosives as well as how to use encrypted messaging to make contacts overseas.
Belgian Court Revokes Citizenship of 'Sharia4Belgium' Terrorists https://t.co/BJfhbRtgcK
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 4, 2020
Several encrypted messaging apps have been popular with jihadists over the last several years, including Telegram which was used by Stockholm terror attacker Rakhmat Akilov to communicate with members of the Islamic State terror group alongside the app Zello prior to his attack in 2017.
The arrest of the Syrian comes just months after the arrest of another suspected jihadist in Brussels, who police say was plotting a terror attack on the U.S. embassy.
Belgium has become well-known as a hotspot for radical Islamic extremism in recent years, with groups like Sharia4Belgium recruiting for the Islamic State and working actively with the terror cell which would go on to commit the Bataclan massacre attack in Paris in November 2015.
The Belgian state tried several jihadists who had gone to fight overseas in absentia and recently stripped them of their Belgian passports, as well.