Man charged with attempted 'terrorist murder'

BRUSSELS • Belgium yesterday charged a man with attempting to commit "terrorist murder" after police uncovered an alleged plot to launch an attack in the country.

An investigating judge charged Nourredine H., 33, with attempting to commit terrorist murder and taking part in the activities of a terrorist group, the federal prosecutor's office said.

He was arrested along with his brother, Hamza, following raids last Friday in the French-speaking areas of Mons and Liege.

Hamza was released without charge yesterday, the prosecutor's office said in a statement. Nourredine was placed in custody.

The authorities said there was for now no connection with the bombings on March 22 at Brussels airport and a metro station near the European Union headquarters that left 32 people dead. Those attacks were claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

No weapons or explosives were found in Friday's raids ordered by a judge specialising in counter-terror cases, the prosecutor's office said.

Several of those involved in the Brussels bloodshed were directly linked to the Nov 13 bombing and gun attacks in Paris last year which left 130 dead and were also claimed by ISIS.

The Belgian authorities last month charged two men with terrorist offences amid reports of a planned attack on a Euro 2016 fanzone in central Brussels.

Belgium beefed up security for its July 21 national day celebrations after a truck attack that killed 84 people in the French city of Nice on Bastille Day, July 14.

Officials in Belgium, which hosts the headquarters of the 28-nation EU and Nato, had previously anticipated a possible truck-style attack before the Nice carnage.

Belgium is the main source per head of population of recruits going from the EU to fight with ISIS in Syria, causing deep concern that they will return home battle-hardened and even more radicalised.

The Interior Ministry said 457 Belgian men and women have gone or tried to join militants in the Middle East, including 90 who are missing or dead.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 31, 2016, with the headline 'Man charged with attempted 'terrorist murder''. Print Edition | Subscribe