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Belgium ‘attractive for Islamic extremists’

Published on 01/12/2005

1 December 2005

BRUSSELS — The federal public prosecution office has opened 200 anti-terror investigations amid concerns Belgium is home to a large number of extremist Islamic groups. 

“Belgium is in fact very attractive for extremist Muslim groups. Belgians are among these extremists, but they are primarily foreigners,” the director of the anti-terror unit AGG, Luc Verheyden, said.

The AGG gathers and analyses intelligence collected by Belgium’s various intelligence services and federal police, newspaper ‘De Tijd’ reported on Thursday.

“Our land is so attractive due to the presence of international organisations. Therefore, there are a lot of media teams stationed here and extremist groups need the media to spread their propaganda,” Verheyden said.

“And the law in Belgium is simply less strict for such propaganda than in other countries, where it is a prosecutable offence, for example, to glorify terrorist acts.”

“Also in comparison to other countries, such as Germany, Belgium does not have a list of banned groups. We can only freeze funds of organisations found on the UN terrorism list, but we can’t ban those organisations.”

Federal police are currently holding nine suspects allegedly linked to the Brussels woman who carried out a suicide bomb attack in Iraq earlier this month. The suspects were arrested in an anti-terror sweep in several cities on Tuesday night.

However, at this moment, the intelligence services have no indications that the large number of extremists living in Belgium are planning attacks on Belgian territory.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news