An examining magistrate has arrested all seven terrorist suspects detained during raids in Antwerp on Tuesday. The investigation centred on a Chechen terrorist outfit.
The news has been confirmed by Federal Public Prosecutors.
The seven suspects detained in Antwerp are believed to have been planning a terrorist outrage in Belgium. How advanced the terrorists' plans were, is unclear. These suspects are also believed to have been involved in recruiting cash and fighters for a Chechen terrorist unit. The extremist website Ansar Al Mujahedeen is believed to have played a crucial role in this operation.
The Mechelen examining magistrate that is leading the investigation arrested them on suspicion of taking part in the activities of a terrorist organisation. They will appear in court on Friday.
Only two of the fifteen suspects detained as part of a separate police operation in the capital have been detained. This investigation focused on a group of young fundamentalist Moslems that recruited fighters for Iraq and Afghanistan. They face similar charges and will also appear in court in Brussels on Friday.
In all twenty-two people were detained in the raids in Antwerp and Brussels on Tuesday.
Belgium has also sought the extradition of three suspects detained in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) on Tuesday. A Dutch court now has ninety takes to decide whether or not their extradition should go ahead.
"Radicals are a small minority"
André Vandoren, the head of the Threat Analysis Centre has been keen to emphasise that the anti-terrorist operation was not directed against the Islamic faith. He rejected criticism that the police launched their action too speedily and without sufficient evidence.
"I think we should await the results of the investigation, but I wouldn't want people to think that this was an operation that was initiated with undue haste. There is one matter that I want to make very clear: This is not an anti-Islam operation. Not at all. We should appreciate that radicals often only make up a small minority within certain groups."