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Belgium charges terror suspect extradited from Greece

Belgian authorities charged an Algerian man with terrorism offences on Thursday after he was extradited from Greece over a plot to kill police, prosecutors said.

The man, identified in media reports as Omar Damasch, 33, was arrested in Athens on January 17 after a huge terror alert in Belgium, and sent to Brussels on Wednesday.

“He was put in preventive custody by the investigating judge this morning and charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group,” federal prosecutors’ spokesman Eric Van der Sijpt said in a statement.

Greek police seized the man two days after Belgian security forces launched a series of anti-terror raids in which two suspected Islamist militants were shot dead.

Belgian investigators believe the group were preparing to attack police officers in public streets and at police stations in Belgium.

The arrests came as Europe was on edge after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, although there is believed to be no link between the Belgian plot and the Paris killings.

Greek sources said the suspect charged on Thursday had agreed to be extradited to Belgium to “prove his innocence”.

The source said the man was arrested at the request of Belgian authorities because he had telephoned three or four times from Athens a suspected Islamist militant who was in prison in Belgium.

The Algerian admitted he made the calls because he knew the prisoner, the source added.

Belgian media said he played an intermediary role between the suspected mastermind of the plot — Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian jihadist who apparently travelled to Greece after having fought in Syria — and members of the cell who plotted to kill police officers.

Abaaoud, who is suspected of having ordered the plot to be carried out from Greece, remains at large.

Several other people have been charged with terror offences in Belgium.

French authorities meanwhile arrested two fugitives linked to the plot and Belgian authorities have asked for their extradition.

Belgium remains on high alert with troops stationed at key institutions.