Brussels – Belgian authorities put the capital on maximum alert, closing down the subway, cancelling sports events, and warned the people of going to crowded places, after serious threats of multiple terrorist attacks.
Prime Minister Charles Michel announced that the threat level raised from 3 to level 4, after a warning of a possible attack, stating that it is “serious and imminent.”
Mr. Michel said that they received information of risk of an attack similar to the ones that Paris suffered, involving multiple individuals attacking at the same time, coordinated with guns and explosives at different places, at the same time.
Looking for more suspects in Molenbeek
Police raids last light, that took place in the immigrant quarter of Molenbeek, as well as in other neighborhoods in Brussels, recovered a series of explosives and weapons, Mr. Michel announced. Security officials inferred that suspects were planning simultaneous attacks, so they decided to raise the alert to its highest level. The U.S. Embassy in Brussels warned American citizens to stay home.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, believed to be the mastermind behind the Paris attacks -who died in a police raid on Paris last Wednesday- lived in the Molenbeek neighbourhood. His brother Salah, which escaped, and Ibrahim Abdeslam, one of the suicide bombers, also lived in the neighbourhood.
Authorities charged last Friday another Belgian citizen for a possible connection with the Paris attacks, although his name remains unknown. However, several Belgian newspapers pointed a 39-year-old Moroccan, living in the Jette section of Brussels, who could have helped Salah Abdeslam after the attacks.
Armed troops were in the street, standing guard in front of hotels and major streets and avenues. Department stores, pool, movie theaters were closed, as a big concert of famous Belgian singer Johnny Hallyday was also canceled.
“The situation is serious but under control,” Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said, according to The Washington Post. “All agencies are prepared, and we are literally working day and night.”
Also, Turkish authorities arrested three Islamic State militants in a hotel in Antalya. One of them, identified as Ahmad Dahmani, 26, is a Belgian that was trying to illegally cross the border to Syria. Turkish authorities stated that they believe he was in contact with terrorists during the Paris attacks. He arrived from Amsterdam the day after the attacks, although Belgian authorities explained that there was no entry ban, according to the NY Times.
Belgian Government will take more security measures
Mr Michel stated this week that he will propose legal changes to capture suspected terrorists in Belgium, looking to extend the period terrorism suspects can be detained by the police without charge to 72 hours. Also, he made a call for imprisoning jihadists who return to Belgium and banning the anonymous sales of telephone SIM cards, as well as other measures.
On the other hand, Interior Minister Jan Jambon stated that most Belgians who returned from fighting in Syria live in Molenbeek, although they don’t have the precise records of who live there.
“It’s unacceptable that we don’t know who lives on the territory of this community. There are apartments where two people are registered, but where 10 actually live,” he said, according to the NY Times.
Source: The New York Times