14 Terror Suspects Detained In Belgium

Buried on page A19 of the Washington Post we find

Belgian police raided homes in four cities Wednesday and detained 14 people suspected of involvement in a terrorist network that sent fighters to Iraq, including a Belgian woman reported to have carried out a suicide bombing in Baghdad…. More than 200 police officers took part in raids at dawn in Brussels and three other cities following media reports that a Belgian woman had blown herself up in a Nov. 9 attack in Baghdad. The woman reportedly carried out a car bombing against an American patrol. U.S. officials said she was the only person killed.

Good to see the Belgian Police taking some action here, as they have been scandal ridden in the past. Belgium has Moslem integration problems similar to France, with huge unemployment among the Moslem youth. When I was last in Antwerp(en) a few years ago, I saw flyers in the cafes and beer bars from the Flemish so-called nationalist parties bemoaning the unemployment in their projects/slums (I can half-way read Flemish, but close to zero French capability, so no idea if the Walloons had a similar sentiment).

And a week ago, the WaPo had a related article
How a Town Became a Terror Hub; Belgian Haven Seen At Heart of Network

The phones at city hall began ringing nonstop one morning last year when several masked figures were spotted walking through the cobbled streets of this pastoral town. A small panic erupted when one of the figures, covered head to ankle in black fabric, appeared at a school and scared children to tears.
It turned out the people were not hooded criminals, but six female residents of Maaseik who were displaying their Muslim piety by wearing burqas , garments that veiled their faces, including their eyes. After calm was restored, a displeased Mayor Jan Creemers summoned the women to his office.
“I said, ‘Ladies, you can be dressed all in Armani black for all I care, but please do not cover your faces,’ ” Creemers recalled. “I tried to talk to them about it, but it was impossible. They said, ‘We are the only true believers of the Koran.’ ”

What the city elders did not know at the time was that the women came from households in which several men had embraced radical Islam and joined a terrorist network that was setting up sleeper cells across Europe, according to Belgian federal prosecutors and court documents from Italy, Spain and France.
Over the next nine months, Belgian federal police arrested five men in Maaseik, a town of 24,000 people tucked in the northeast corner of Belgium. Each was charged with membership in a terrorist organization, the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, a fast-growing network known by its French initials, GICM….Belgian police responded with several raids and made 15 arrests in what they called Operation Asparagus 2. “We don’t know yet if they are active members of the GICM, of al Qaeda or of another terrorist group,” Glen Audenaert, head of the federal police, said at a news conference at the time. “But that they were preparing an attack is beyond dispute.”
All but one of those suspects was later released, however, and it is unclear what, if anything, they were planning.

So, based on history, most will be released. Or not, if history is broken. What is clear is that France and the Low Countries have a significant problem with no easy solution. The riots were a week ago, but they have slipped below our 24/7 news cycle – but the problems remain.

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Richard Gardner
About Richard Gardner
Richard Gardner is a “retired” Navy Submarine Officer with military policy, arms control, and budgeting experience. He contributed over 100 pieces to OTB between January 2004 and August 2008, covering special events. He has a BS in Engineering from the University of California, Irvine.


  1. DC Loser says:

    The so-called Flemish Nationalists like the Vlaams Blok are nothing but neo-nazis in disguise. So I’m not really surprised by their fearmongering. I lived in Namur, the capital of French speaking Walloonia, awhile ago. Back then I could not detect any hint of the type of nativist political movements along the lines of the Flemish neo-nazis. Maybe that’s changed now.