France hands over jihadist cell suspect to Belgium

17th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

One of two Belgian brothers linked to a dismantled jihadist cell has been handed over to Belgium after he was arrested in France last month, the prosecutor's office said.

The suspect, Souhaib El Abdi, 25, is now in custody and he will appear before a judge in the coming days, the office said.

El Abdi is suspected of "participating in a terrorist group" and of recruiting for the dismantled jihadist cell.

Belgium has been on high alert since a cell believed to have been plotting attacks on police on the street and in stations was dismantled on January 15.

El Abdi's brother Ismael was also linked to the plot.

The two fled on January 15, after a shootout during an anti-terrorist operation in the Belgian town of Verviers in which two jihadist suspects were killed.

The brothers were arrested the same night by French border police as they were about to cross into Italy.

Souhaib had launched an appeal in France to oppose his transfer to his homeland. He finally agreed to the handover in the beginning of February.

Ismael, 32, had been handed over to the Belgians soon after his arrest in January.

Five suspects are now in custody in Belgium, charged of "being part of a terrorist group", with three among them in provisional detention.

The group's suspected mastermind -- Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian jihadist who allegedly fought alongside the Islamic State group in Syria -- is still at large.


© 2015 AFP

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