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Mossad said helping Brussels seek terror mastermind

According to Belgian media, US intel also aiding search; men arrested in Greece said not connected to planned attack

A Belgian soldier stands guard outside the US Embassy in Brussels on January 17, 2015, shortly after Belgian police broke up an IS cell that officials said had planned attacks in the country. (Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga/AFP)
A Belgian soldier stands guard outside the US Embassy in Brussels on January 17, 2015, shortly after Belgian police broke up an IS cell that officials said had planned attacks in the country. (Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga/AFP)

Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency and American intelligence services are working with Belgian officials to try and locate the suspected mastermind of a terror attack which was thwarted in Belgium last week, the country’s Le Dernière Heure newspaper reported Saturday.

The paper cited several unnamed official sources, who said 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud was believed to be hiding in Greece or Turkey.

Israeli or American cooperation with Brussels has not been confirmed by any official sources, and it was unclear what such cooperation may involve.

Earlier Belgian authorities said that even though they had broken up the alleged terror cell they were still looking for some suspects abroad, and briefly hoped Greece could have clinched the breakthrough by detaining Abaaoud.

A Greek police official earlier Saturday said four men were detained in Athens, and that they included an individual who at first sight matched the description of the key suspect.

But after careful vetting in Brussels of ID information, federal magistrate Eric Van der Sypt said there was no positive match with any individual they sought and said “they had nothing to do with the Belgian case.”

Soldiers fanned out to guard possible terror targets in Belgium Saturday. For the first time in three decades, authorities used paratroopers to reinforce police in Belgium’s cities, guarding buildings within the Jewish quarter of the port city of Antwerp and some Belgian embassies. The move came a day after anti-terror raids netted dozens of suspects across Western Europe and increased anxiety across big swathes of the region.

Belgium has increased its terror warning to 3, the second-highest, following the anti-terror raids of Thursday which left two suspects dead. Police believe the cell they largely dismantled was on the verge of a major attack.

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