Two brothers were arrested Saturday in Belgium in connection with a terror-related investigation. One of the brothers was later released but the other, who is currently only identified as Nourredine H. According to CNN, was charged with attempting to commit a terrorist murder and participation in the activities of a terrorist organization.
Two brothers, suspected of planning attacks, arrested in Belgium in anti-terror operation, prosecutors say https://t.co/bFY8dBnBKH
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) July 30, 2016
Authorities searched homes in the region of Mons and in Liege on Friday evening but found no weapons or explosives. Nourredine H. and his brother Hamza were detained for suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in Belgium, but Hamza was eventually released.
Police are saying that at the present time there is no known link between the brothers and the terror attack in Belgium in March 2016 that killed 32 people. After the arrests, the federal prosecutor said that “Based on provisional results from the investigation, it appears that there were plans to carry out attacks in Belgium.”
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the Brussels terrorist attack. It was later discovered that the three suicide bombers had ties to the terrorist cell involved in the November, 2015, attacks in Paris. The terrorist attack occurred shortly after police began raids targeting the group.
Belgium mourns terror attack dead https://t.co/Di9h9s3qpS : March 23, 2016 at 04:42AM via mikejulietbravo
— MJB Times (@mjbtimes) March 23, 2016
Another terror attack was foiled by Belgium police in June during the Euro Cup. The Irish Mirror reported that 12 suspects were arrested after they allegedly planned a terror attack during the Ireland vs. Belgium match of the Euro Cup. The attack was to take place in the Belgian capital while fans were gathered to watch the game on television.
— monty Labban (@monty1041) June 19, 2016
Brussels, and Belgium in general, has been on high alert given that NATO headquarters and European Union institutions are located there. After the terror attack in Nice, France, where 84 people were killed after watching fireworks celebrating Bastille Day, Belgium was on high alert with their national day on July 21.
Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the Bastille day attacker, was not known to any surveillance agencies in Belgium, but ISIL called him a “Soldier of Islam” and praised his actions. Bouhlel drove a truck through the celebrating crowd running over hundreds of people and killing 84. Five others were charged in the investigation and accused of helping him plan the attack, which Prosecutors said had been planned since at least 2015. None of the five people who were charged, which according to the Independent include one woman and four men, were known to security agencies in Belgium either.
Nice terror attack: Five suspects charged over truck attack that killed 84 https://t.co/8ZJFmNN2s6
— Metro (@MetroUK) July 22, 2016
With terror attacks happening fairly regularly around Europe, the U.S. has issued warnings to people travelling to the region warning about “the risk of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe, targeting major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers and transportation.”
The spring and summer is the busiest tourist season in Europe which is what prompted the State Department’s warning. As part of their warning, the State Department advised that U.S. citizens follow some basic safety procedures including:
- Exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation.
- Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities, especially in an emergency.
- Monitor media and local event information sources and factor updated information into your travel plans and activities.
- Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
- Stay in touch with your family, have a plan if you are separated and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
According to the Wall Street Journal, tourism to Europe has taken a hit partly because of the Brexit vote and partly because of the heightened terror threat.
[Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images]