A little over a week after coordinated terror attacks shut down Paris, France — after killing 129 and injuring hundreds more –Belgium’s capital, Brussels, is now on lockdown on highest terrorism alert. This follows a raid on a house revealed an “arsenal” including explosives and chemicals in Molenbeek, Brussels.
The city of more than one million residents is home to the European Union headquarters, the NATO alliance and officers of many multinational corporations.
Via Fox News:
Belgium’s capital was placed on a security lockdown as the national crisis center raised its terrorism alert Saturday to its highest level and at least one suspect from the Paris attacks remains at large.
The terrorism alert for Brussels was raised to Level 4, which indicates a “serious and immediate threat.”
Prime Minister Charles Michel said the decision to raise the alert level was taken “based on quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris…where several individuals with arms and explosives launch actions, perhaps even in several places at the same time.”
Authorities across Europe, the Middle East and Washington are trying to determine how a network of French and Belgian nationalists with links to Islamic extremists in Syria plotted and carried out the deadliest violence in France since World War II – and how many may still be on the loose.
Brussels was home to the suspected organizer of the Nov. 13 terror attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and Belgium has filed charges of “participation in terrorist attacks and participation in the activities of a terrorist organization” against three suspects relating to the Paris attacks.
Heavily armed police and soldiers patrolled key intersections of the Belgian capital Saturday morning, a city of more than 1 million that is home to the headquarters of the European Union, the NATO alliance and officers of many multinational corporations. Residents were recommended to avoid gatherings, train stations, airports and commercial districts. Service was halted on the Brussels Metro, as well as on streetcar lines that run underground, and residents were urged to stay indoors.
Other reports note that the city’s metro is closed until tomorrow afternoon, and shopping centers have also been closed down during the lockdown.
In Turkey, authorities detained three suspected Islamic State militants, including a 26-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said Saturday that the two Syrians and the Belgian national — identified as Ahmet D. — were detained near the Turkish coastal city of Antalya. The private Dogan news agency identified the Belgian as Ahmet Dahmani and said he is suspected of having explored areas in Paris that were targeted in the attacks.
We will be watching for developments and praying that this abundance of caution averts incident.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]