Belgium charges third over Paris plot

Belgian police in Villa Marquette, 31 MarchImage copyright

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Belgian police have carried out frequent raids since the capture of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam

Belgian authorities have charged a third suspect with terrorist offences linked to a plot to attack France.

A Belgian national named only as Y.A. joins two others charged in Belgium in relation to the foiled plot.

The charges come in the wake of the arrest of Frenchman Reda Kriket in a Paris suburb on 24 March.

The arrests all followed bomb attacks on the airport and a metro station in Brussels on 22 March that left 32 people dead.

Belgian federal prosecutors gave few details about the latest charges.

A statement named the suspect as Y.A, aged 33, who was arrested on Thursday and had appeared before a judge on Friday to have his detention extended.

He was charged with “participating in the activities of a terrorist group”.

Recent arrests and charges in Belgium

A man referred to officially as Facyal C was released on 28 March after being arrested on 24 March in Brussels and charged with “participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempted terrorist murders”.

Others detained on suspicion of terrorist activity include

  • Salah Abdeslam – arrested on 18 March in the Molenbeek district of Brussels. Key suspect in the Paris attacks last November. Charged with “terrorist murder”
  • ‘Amine Choukri’ – arrested on 18 March with Abdeslam, real name not yet known. Also used the alias Monir Ahmed Alaaj. Documented by German police near Ulm in a car with Abdeslam last October. Charged with “terrorist murder” over the Paris attacks
  • Rabah N – arrested on 25 March and charged with participating in terrorist activities in relation to a foiled plot to attack Paris
  • Abderamane A – shot in the leg and arrested on 25 March at a tram stop in the Schaerbeek area of Brussels. Charged in relation to the foiled plot to attack Paris. Jailed for seven years in France in 2005 and banned from entering France for life aiding in the assassination of Afghan commander Ahmed Shah Massoud in 2001.
  • Aboubakar A – arrested on 24 March in a car in Brussels, charged with participating in terrorist activities
  • Yassine A, Mohamed B and Aboubaker O – arrested during raids on 27 March and charged with belonging to a terrorist group

The charges come after an arsenal of weapons was found at the home of Reda Kriket, with the Paris prosecutor saying an imminent act of “extreme violence” had probably been prevented.

The other two charged in Belgium are Abderamane A and Rabah N.

Another man has been detained in the Netherlands and is contesting extradition to France.

The recent spate of arrests was sparked by the detention in Brussels on 18 March of Salah Abdeslam, a key surviving suspect in the gun and bomb attacks on a concert hall, a stadium, restaurants and bars in Paris on 13 November 2015 killed 130 people.

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Belgian/French police

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Abdeslam was arrested in a dramatic raid in Brussels not far from his home

The attacks in Brussels came four days after Abdeslam’s arrest. Three suicide bombers are known to have died, while at least one other suspect, pictured on CCTV at the airport, is being sought.

Meanwhile Abdeslam’s brother, Mohamed, says he has met him in his Belgian prison cell where he is awaiting extradition to France.

Mohamed said his brother had chosen not to blow himself up, to save lives.

He told France’s BFMTV that Salah had told him: “There would have been more victims had I done it. Luckily, I couldn’t go through with it.”

So-called Islamic State said it carried out both the Paris and Brussels attacks.

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