Belgium holds al Qaeda suspects longer

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The six stand accused of being part of a terrorist group.

Six al Qaeda suspects, who were arrested in Belgium last week, will be held in custody until 7 January. Their lawyers had asked for more time to review the numerous files on the case. The six stand accused of being part of a terrorist group. They are allegedly part of the Belgian arm of the terrorist al Qaeda network. Their lawyers refute the allegation.

The postponement of a hearing by the judge's chambers on the suspects' further detention was postponed until 7 January to give the lawyers sufficient time to examine 31 cartons containing an estimated 1,500 pages, according to Belga press agency.

Belgium detained 14 people suspected of links with al Qaeda last Thursday. The police action came just ahead of the recent summit meeting of European Union leaders.

One of the suspects may have been planning a planning a suicide attack. Information regarding where the attack might have taken place has not been forthcoming, though the authorities said last week that they did not exclude the possibility that it could have happened in connection with the EU summit.

Malika-El-Aroud - photo VRTEight people were later released; six were kept in custody, including the Malika El Aroud, the 49 year old widow of one of the murderers of the anti-Taliban Afghan opposition leader Ahmed Shah Masood two days before the September 11 attacks in 2001. Malika El Aroud's current husband Moez Garsallaoui was also detained in Brussels. He is alleged to train terrorists in Afghanistan.

The six terrorist suspects will appear before the Brussels judge's chamber on 7 January, 2009 to determine whether there is sufficient evidence against them to prolong their police custody.


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