Posted on March 4, 2024

Belgium: 4 Islamists Arrested Over Suspected Assassination Plot, Terror Threat Soars

Remix, March 4, 2024

On Sunday morning, counter-terrorism officers arrested four men suspected of being connected to an extremist Islamist organization, with three of the suspects reported as minors.

The operation was carried out in four different Belgium cities — Brussels, Charleroi, Ninove and Liège — with officers raiding houses and apartments in each location, although no explosives or weapons were discovered.

According to RTBF, the suspects were communicating through a messaging app and were believed to be planning a terror attack. Authorities intervened and arrested the men as a precautionary measure to avoid a potential assassination attempt.

Terror threat is growing

In its report published on Friday, the Belgian Center for the Analysis of Terrorism Threats (OCAD) noted that the number of threats related to terrorism and extremism increased by 41 percent last year.

More than 40 percent of the reports were related to Islamist extremism, but in the other cases, the “ideological dimension” could not be determined. OCAD attributes the majority of threats to lone perpetrators, with only a small percentage involving organized groups.

OCAD reported that there were 332 reports of terrorism or extremism in 2023, compared to 236 threats the previous year. The rise in terror threats jumped due to “significant emotional events,” such as the Gaza war and the Brussels terror attack in October, where two Swedish soccer fans were fatally shot.

While more than half of the reports were classified as a low threat, OCAD noted that 7 percent were classified as very severe, raising the overall threat environment in Belgium to Level 3 (severe). The highest threat Level 4 was briefly implemented in the Brussels region following the October attack.