Expatica news

Al-Qaeda ‘targeting Belgium’

13 January 2004

BRUSSELS – Osama Bin-Laden’s terrorist network Al-Qaeda was plotting an attack in Belgium at some time over the new year holiday period according to US press reports.

Citing unnamed US intelligence experts, the Monday edition of USA Today newspaper said two “foreign sources who had been reliable in the past” had provided Washington with information about possible terror attacks in Belgium, Saudi Arabia, and a number of sites in the USA itself.

It is thought that the targets in all of the locations cited would have been oil refineries, oil pipelines or nuclear power stations.

But the Belgian Interior Ministry reacted coolly to the news that Al Qaeda appears to have specifically targeted Belgium for the first time.

“Obviously we are always vigilant but we have taken no extra measures to deal with this apparent threat,” a spokeswoman for Patrick Dewael, who is both Belgium’s Interior Minister and the country’s deputy Prime Minister, told Expatica. “We were not unduly alarmed by the news,” she added.

According to USA Today the intelligence on the possible attacks in Belgium and elsewhere was one of the reasons why the US government decided on December 21 to raise its level of national security alert from ‘Code yellow’ – an ‘elevated risk’ – to high risk ‘Code Orange’.

That move led to the cancellation of a number of trans-Atlantic flights over the recent holiday period, most notably services scheduled to fly to the USA from London and Paris.

Washington has since lowered the alert to yellow again.

The reasons behind Al-Qaeda’s apparent decision to target Belgium are not known.

But some analysts say the decision could be linked to the recent high profile trial in the country of 23 suspected militants from the terror network, which saw 18 of the defendants receive jail sentences.

[Copyright Expatica News 2003]

                         Subject: Belgian news