Belgium court sentences Islamist leader on terrorism charges

Belgium court sentences Islamist leader on terrorism charges

A Belgian court on Wednesday declared a radical Islamist group a terrorist organization, sentencing its leader to 12 years in prison. The group, known as Sharia4Belgium [AP report], has allegedly been recruiting young individuals to join their terrorist organization and fight in Syria. The court determined them to be a terrorist organization and sentenced other members to between three and five years in prison, with some sentences suspended. The trial itself was considered Belgium’s largest terrorism trial, with 46 individuals initially indicted for their possible links to the radical group. While Sharia4Belgium reportedly disbanded two years ago, Belgian law enforcement officials have continued to investigate and arrest suspected terrorists who threaten the nation’s safety. The Belgian court’s decision comes after last month’s police raid in the city of Verviers, preventing a possible terrorist attack within the country.

Countries around the world have attempted to pass laws to curb fears of increasing extremism and terrorism. Last month Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain signed into law [JURIST report] anti-terrorism legislation that will establish military courts for the hearing of civilian terrorism related cases. This law is the latest in a series of anti-terrorism government efforts in the wake of a school massacre [JURIST report] by the Pakistani Taliban that killed 134 children along with 16 staff members. Also in January the High Court of Kenya [official website] suspended [JURIST report] eight sections of a controversial new anti-terrorism law until a legal challenge by the opposition is heard by the court. In November Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak [BBC profile] suggested [JURIST report] to the country’s parliament that new laws are needed to strengthen existing legislation to combat terrorism.