Palestinian arrested in Brussels for talk about planning a suicide bombing

Incident comes week after Belgium raised terror threat to highest level and as Jews across Europe and the US report increase in antisemitic attacks

Police officers onboard motorbikes stand guard outside the King Baudouin Stadium after two Swedes were shot dead in an attack in Brussels on October 16, 2023. (John Thys/AFP)
Police officers onboard motorbikes stand guard outside the King Baudouin Stadium after two Swedes were shot dead in an attack in Brussels on October 16, 2023. (John Thys/AFP)

A Palestinian asylum seeker was arrested in Brussels on Wednesday, a day after he visited a migrant aid organization, where he allegedly talked about planning a suicide attack, a source close to the case told AFP.

According to the same source, the man, in his twenties, was visibly “desperate” about his family’s situation in the war-torn Gaza Strip amid Israel’s war against Hamas, launched after the terror group massacred over 1,400 Israelis on October 7.

He was said to have declared his intention to “die as a martyr by blowing himself up.”

According to the Belga press agency, the young man was arrested around midday in a Brussels hotel following a large-scale search operation.

In the early afternoon, the Brussels public prosecutor’s office announced the arrest of an individual in the Belgian capital, without confirming that it was the individual who had been sought.

The terrorist threat level in Belgium was raised last week from 2 to 3, the second-highest level and considered “serious.”

This followed an attack in the Belgian capital in which two Swedish nationals were shot dead, and another injured, by a radicalized Tunisian.

The attacker was shot dead by Belgian police on October 17, the day after the attack.

Belgian police officers investigate the scene where the suspected perpetrator of a terror shooting was killed, in the Schaerbeek area of Brussels on October 17, 2023. (JOHN THYS/AFP)

Adding to the fears is the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, which was prompted by Hamas’s unprecedented invasion of Israeli territory on October 7, in which some 2,500 terrorists poured into the country and killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, across the south of Israel.

An additional 224 people were abducted to Gaza as hostages, of whom just four have been released.

In response, Israel declared that Hamas would be eradicated from the Gaza Strip, and its infrastructure destroyed.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip, more than 6,500 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed. However, the figures issued by the terror group cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include its own terrorists and gunmen, killed in Israel and in Gaza, and the victims of a blast at a Gaza City hospital on October 17 caused by an Islamic Jihad missile misfire that Hamas has blamed on Israel.

Against this backdrop, the threats made on Tuesday by the young Palestinian exile were taken very seriously.

“We can’t allow the slightest lapse in our precautions,” said the informed source.

German riot police officers push back Pro-Palestinian demonstrators as they protest against the bombing in Gaza outside the Foreign Ministry in Berlin on October 18, 2023. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

Since October 7, a significant uptick in antisemitic incidents has been noted in Jewish communities worldwide, as protests in support of Hamas’s atrocities have swept the streets.

In Europe, multiple countries have reported an increased volume of antisemitic incidents, and in Germany, France, Britain and Spain, surveillance around synagogues and Jewish schools has been increased.

On October 18, a Berlin synagogue was attacked with Molotov cocktails. The synagogue belongs to the Kahal Adass Jisroel community and is also home to a kindergarten and community center.

In Italy, a nightclub in Milan’s former Jewish Quarter was vandalized on Friday with crude graffiti reading “Jews to death, rats we are coming to get you in your sewers” and “Nazi Jews you will pay,” scrawled across the walls of a bathroom.

Italian officials were investigating the incident.

In the US, an increase in antisemitism has also been noted, and on Monday, NYPD data indicated there were 33 antisemitic hate crimes in the first three weeks of October alone, already surpassing the monthly average of 18 so far this year.

In the week after October 7,  The Jewish Community Security Service group received 40 reports of suspicious or antisemitic activity in the US, mostly in the New York region, more than double the normal rate.

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