Belgian terrorism suspects remain in custody as case details emerge
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
A court in Flanders prolonged the custody of 12 suspects on Thursday. Meanwhile, more details emerge in the case against alleged neo-Nazi group inside the Belgian army. They are accused of terrorism, weapons traffic and racism.
Most lawyers involved asked for their clients to be released, and will appeal the court's decision. One lawyer said the police was being influenced politically to make the arrests now, before the elections of October 8, and that his client was more of a "immature teenager and weapons freak". The prosecutor is calling some suspects weapons dealers, but the defence lawyers claim they are weapons collectors, and say that terrorism is out of the question.
A spokesperson for the justice department denied this formally, saying that "The weapons traffic of the suspects began to take too large proportions, so we couldn't wait any longer." She also said the army informed them that they considered it too dangerous to take the soldiers involved along on uncoming international missions (Belgium is sending troups to Lebanon).
The prime suspect and alleged leader of the group is Thomas B. The police thinks he has a neo-Nazistic ideology and was planning attacks to destabilise Belgium. Thomas B. founded a splinter group of Blood and Honour called 'Bloed, Bodem, Eer en Trouw' (Eng: Blood, Soil, Honour and Fidelity), after the British headquarters of the skinhead organisation didn't let him found an official branch in Belgium.
T.V. station VTM claimed the police tapped into phone conversations where Thomas B. was talking about killing Filip Dewinter and Dyab Abou Jahjah, two political leaders and opponents in Belgium. That way, both sides would cause an uprise and they could seize the opportunity. But the prosecutor's office has formally denied the existence of specific plans to this end.
The police has discovered numerous weapons, and a video showing a paramilitary training, not only on military grounds but also under a bridge in the city Dendermonde. The police say the tape shows how they fire guns and throw Molotov cocktails on that location.
In the political arena, Internal Affairs minister Patrick Dewael has suggested a law to forbid far right criminal organisations. The plan was applauded by some and contested by others. Earlier on Friday, the federal government supported the proposal to give more power to the national intelligence services to fight terrorism. Minister of Defence André Flahaut suspended 11 suspects inside the army. Prime minister Guy Verhofstadt said the entire affair was "a blame for the country and the army".
- "Terreurnetwerk opgeblazen?" — , September 14, 2006 (Dutch)
- "Extreem-rechts complot in Belgisch leger" — , September 13, 2006 (Dutch)
- "La justice dément les propos de VTM" — , September 12, 2006 (French)
- "Parket ontkent dat BBET Filip Dewinter wilde vermoorden" — , September 12, 2006 (Dutch)
- "Verdachte extremisten blijven in de cel" — , September 12, 2006 (Dutch)
- "Belgium to Continue Probe on Neo-Nazi Group" — , September 12, 2006
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