Belgian police hold 11 in Morocco-linked attacks probe
11 men are custody following a request by Moroccan authorities, amid an investigation into a suspected terrorist group in Belgium.
BRUSSELS - Belgian police took 11 men into custody Thursday following a request by Moroccan authorities, amid an investigation into a suspected terrorist group in Belgium, federal prosecutors said.
The 11 were picked up during 12 raids, involving around 100 officers, in Brussels, Tongres, in northeast Belgium, central Nivelle and Arlon in the southeast, spokeswoman Lieve Pellens said.
The raids follow declarations made to police early this year by Abdelkader Belliraj, a Belgian and Moroccan national on trial in Morocco on suspicion of having led an Al Qaeda-linked group.
Belliraj is alleged to have provided police with a list of potentially dangerous Belgian-Moroccans still living in the kingdom, Pellens said.
Seven of the 11 -- six Moroccans and an Algerian national -- could be deported because they do not have Belgian nationality, she said, adding that such justice proceedings could yet take several weeks.
The investigating judge was to decide later Thursday whether the other four should be detained.
Police also seized computers and documents during the raids, but no weapons or explosives were found.
Belliraj's relations with the Belgian authorities have long-been the subject of intense media speculation.
Some suggest he was in the pay of Belgium's domestic intelligence service for years, while others say this collaboration was just a cover and that he was a die-hard jihadist who spent time in extremist camps in Afghanistan.
Moroccan authorities have said he has confessed to several unsolved murders committed in Belgium in 1989.