Belgian prosecutors on Tuesday said that authorities have taken into custody two people suspected of plotting New Year’s Eve attacks of popular tourist spots in Brussels. According to their statement, police on Sunday and Monday conducted raids [AFP report] around Brussels and the Liege region, ultimately seizing military-style training uniforms, computer hardware and Islamic State (IS) propaganda materials. The first suspect was charged [NPR report] with both suspicion of planning the attacks and playing a lead role in the activities of a terrorist group and recruiting for terrorist acts. The second suspect was charged with participating in a terrorist group’s activities as a principal actor or co-actor. According to the federal prosecutor’s office, authorities do not believe at this point that there is a link between this suspected plot and the attacks in France in November.
Authorities in Belgium are still searching for suspects that have been linked to the terrorist attacks in France on November 13. Paris’ chief prosecutor Francois Molins reported the day after the attack that several arrests [JURIST report] had already been made, and numerous raids have since been conducted in France and Belgium. Organized in three teams, terrorists reportedly connected to the Islamic State (IS) [JURIST backgrounder] perpetrated attacks on six different targets in and around Paris. The attacks began with a suicide bombing at the Stade de France around 9:20 PM local time. Soon thereafter, individuals riding in a Seat brand car opened fire on individuals outside cafes around Paris. At around 9:40 PM, assailants fired on concert-goers at the Bataclan concert hall, killing 89. Molins related that these individuals were using “war-type weapons” and explosives, further indicating association with IS. Speaking about the attacks generally, French President Francois Hollande called them [BBC report] “an act of war,” and vowed that the French “will lead the fight, and we will be ruthless.” A UN rights expert also commented this week that the attacks may amount to crimes against humanity [JURIST report]. It is yet unclear if France will invoke [JURIST op-ed] Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty to call on allies to help fight IS, as the US did in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.