Belgium Terror Probe: Two Arrested, One Charged With Terror Related Charges

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.

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.”

Belgium mourns after deadly terrorist attack Belgium mourns after deadly terrorist attack [Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]On the morning of March 22, 2016, two suicide bombers set off their vests at the Brussels airport in Zaventem and one suicide bomber detonated at the Maalbeek metro station in central Brussels, in a coordinated attack. Thirty-two innocent people died in the attacks along with the three perpetrators, and more than 300 people were injured. An undetonated bomb was found during a search of the airport after the attacks.

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.

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.

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.

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]