Belgium's anti-terror agency keeping close eye on 650 suspected extremists

Belgium's anti-terror agency keeping close eye on 650 suspected extremists

Shafaq News/ Belgium's anti-terrorist agency announced on Tuesday that it is monitoring 650 people in the country who are considered to have ties to terrorism and extremism.

The new figures have been published as Belgian officials stress they are doing everything to prevent attacks after at least 139 people were killed in Moscow in a massacre claimed by ISIS.

ISIS bombings in 2016 deeply affected Belgium and its latest brush with terrorism-related violence came last October when a Tunisian gunman killed two Swedes in an attack claimed by the group.

The 650 individuals are part of a list that all security forces can access, and 88 per cent “follow a jihadist ideology”, the Ocam agency said.

Among them, 426 individuals are identified as “foreign terrorist fighters” – people who travelled or sought to travel to a conflict zone to rally a terrorist movement.

Nine per cent and two per cent of the individuals are under surveillance because of their far-right and extreme-left links.

The other one per cent represent “various threats” that are anti-elite or linked to political strife overseas.

Belgium's terror level remains high at three, one below the highest, which means there is a “serious” but not “very serious” risk of an attack.

Neighbouring France raised their level on Sunday.

“To move to level four, we really need to have concrete elements of an imminent attack and at the moment, we do not have these elements in Belgium,” said Ocam chief, Gert Vercauteren.

This level, which applies to the whole country, does not exclude the possibility of an increase on a local level or for certain events and sensitive visits, he added. The 650 figure for 2023 represents a drop of about seven per cent compared to 2022.

Shafaq Live
Shafaq Live
Radio radio icon