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Belgian ‘bombers poised to depart for Iraq’

Published on 01/12/2005

1 December 2005

BRUSSELS — A married couple who was arrested in Antwerp on Tuesday night in a large-scale federal anti-terror sweep were poised to depart for Iraq to carry out a suicide attack, police and judicial sources have confirmed.

The Antwerp couple of Moroccan ancestry wanted to follow in the footsteps of Muriel Degauque, 38, and her husband Aissan.

Both of them were killed in two separate but failed attacks in Iraq earlier this month, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported on Thursday.

Degauque, of Monceau-sur-Sambre, died on 9 November when she drove a vehicle filled with explosives into a US army convoy. The attack failed and only Degauque was killed.

The daughter of a Belgian working class family, Degauque became a radical when she married the Moroccan Aissan five years ago. She had converted to Islam during an earlier marriage with an Algerian.

After her marriage with Aissan, Degauque surprised her parents by starting to wear a burka. She also wore black gloves to hide the skin on her hands. She scarcely had any contact with her parents in recent years.

She moved to Brussels and a few months ago departed with her husband in a car to Iraq via Turkey and Syria.

Degauque phoned her parents for the last time three weeks ago in Syria and shortly after carried out her failed suicide bombing.

Husband Aissan also failed in his attack: US soldiers killed him and five other suspects in a shoot-out before he could carry out the attack. Aissan was shot in the head. He was wearing a belt with explosives. Five other suspects were arrested.

The police raids carried out on Tuesday night in Brussels, Antwerp, Riemst and Charleroi targeted an alleged terrorist network smuggling candidate suicide bombers into Iraq.

Fourteen people were arrested, nine of whom have since appeared before a judge. They are suspected of membership of a terrorist organisation. Five are still being remanded in custody.

Among the detainees is the Antwerp couple. Bugged telephone calls indicate they wanted to travel to Iraq.

Another one of the arrested suspects is the son of a renowned Tunisian Koran instructor in Brussels. He was deported from Belgium in 1991 for repeatedly using inflammatory language.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news