Belgium charges third suspect in ‘imminent’ French terror plot

Belgium charges third suspect in ‘imminent’ French terror plot

Unnamed suspect, 35, held over plans to participate in act of ‘extreme violence,’ according to authorities

Police officers stand guard during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, on March 18, 2016. (AP/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Police officers stand guard during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, on March 18, 2016. (AP/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Belgium on Saturday charged a third suspect with terrorist activities over a foiled plot to attack France, federal prosecutors said.

They named the suspect only as 35-year-old Y.A., but gave no further details.

“He has been charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement, adding that the development was part of a joint investigation by France and Belgium.

Two others — Abderrahmane A. and Rabah M. — are also being held in Belgium over the same plot.

The main plot suspect is Reda Kriket, 34, who was arrested near Paris last week. A police raid on his apartment netted a cache of assault rifles, handguns and TATP, the highly volatile homemade explosive favored by Islamic State (IS) jihadists.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said “no specific target” had been identified for the foiled attack but that the cache of weapons showed an imminent act of “extreme violence” had likely been prevented.

Another French suspect, 32-year-old Anis Bahri, was arrested in Rotterdam in the Netherlands on Sunday in connection with the foiled Paris plot and is fighting extradition to France.

Both Kriket and Bahri are believed to have traveled to Syria in late 2014 or early 2015, and since then between France, Belgium and the Netherlands, the French prosecutor said.

European authorities have been under pressure to step up efforts to crack down on cross-border jihadist networks after close links emerged between the attackers blamed for the November Paris attacks and those behind last week’s suicide blasts at the airport and a metro station in Brussels.

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