Belgian Police Alerted to IS Fighters En Route to EuropeJune 23, 2016 in Belgium
Reports have emerged that Belgian police have received an anti-terror alert warning that a group of Islamic State (IS) fighters recently left Syria, en route foe Europe planning to carry out attacks in Belgium and neighbouring France.
The Belgian crisis centre, which is in charge of coordinating security responses, has reported that an alert had been circulated to all police forces in the country. The centre however has noted that there are no immediate plans to raise the security level to the maximum, which would effectively indicate an imminent threat of an attack.
Newspaper DH quoted the alert from Belgium’s anti-terror cell as stating that the group “left Syria bout a week and a half ago aiming to reach Europe via Turkey and Greece by boat without passports.” The alert however did not give an exact departure date. The contents of the alert have been confirmed by a Belgian security source. DH has also reported that the fighters were armed and aimed to split into two units, one aiming to carry out attacks in Belgium while the other in France. Potential targets in Belgium included a shopping centre, a fast-food restaurant and a police station. The newspaper mentioned no specific targets in France, which is currently hosing the Euro 2016 football championships in ten stadiums across the country. The tournament will go until 10 July, with some 2.5 million spectators expected to watch the 51 games.
A source at France’s Interior Ministry has also disclosed that Belgian authorities had transmitted a note to their French counterparts, who are currently reviewing the information in the alert, adding, “we know the threat is very high…We’re reviewing all th elements (in the alert).” Speaking at a news conference, French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll disclosed “we know there are fighters who are coming back (to Europe),” adding that he could not confirm the specific alert from Belgium.
The alert comes just two days after an attack, who pledged allegiance to IS, killed a French police commander and his partner at their home outside Paris, and four days after a gunman declaring loyalty to IS massacred 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.