Belgium charges man with participating in terrorist activities
A young Belgian man arrested at the weekend has been charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group, Belgian federal prosecutors said Monday.
The man identified as Jimmy K. was formally charged on Sunday following reports he had been detained south of the capital Brussels on Saturday, April 13.
“He was charged by the investigating judge with participation in the activities of a terrorist group,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
It said searches were carried out in Wavre, Comines and Ottignies, all in the southern French-speaking parts of Belgium.
It said no weapons or explosives were found following the 22-year-old’s arrest, which local media said took place in Wavre, 30 km (18 miles) southeast of the capital Brussels.
But the Belgian broadcaster RTL said police had seized a computer and telephones.
A source close to the investigation, contacted by AFP, could not confirm a report in the Derniere Heure newspaper that the suspect was about to carry out an attack.
“We have no idea if he had attack plans, but elements of the probe indicate he had been radicalised and had contacts with radicalized people,” the source said.
The source added that the suspect lived in Comines, across the border from the French city of Lille.
The Derniere Heure, quoting the man’s grandmother, said the suspect had converted to Islam after his mother was killed by her partner three years ago.
His grandmother added that he spent time with the Muslim community in Wavre when he visited her home there.”One day he converted but only to pray,” she was quoted as saying.
Jihadist group adherents have carried out a number of attacks in the last few years, including suicide bombings at a Brussels metro station and the international airport on March 22, 2016.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed 32 people and wounded hundreds of others.
In October, a Belgian court stripped a 36-year-old man, Fouad Balkacem, of his citizenship for heading a terrorist group that recruited would-be fighters for Islamic State and other groups in Syria.