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Teenagers with lone wolf terror plans detained

The Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Flemish liberal) has said in an interview that during the first two months of this year a total of four 16 and 17-year-olds were detained for plotting lone wolf terror attacks in Belgium. Each of the teenagers had hatched their plan autonomously. Speaking in an interview with the commercial broadcaster VTM on Monday evening, Mr Van Quickenborne said that for the first time in three years minors now feature on the list of terror suspects again. 

Up until a few months ago all the names on the terror risk assessment body OCAD’s list of terror suspects were over the age of 18. This all changed in November 2020 when 2 minors were detained in the town of Eupen, in the east of Liège Province, on suspicion of planning a terrors attack against the police. It has now emerged that during the first two months of this year a further four minors were detained for each having their own individual plans to carry out separate lone wolf attacks here in Belgium. Two of the youngsters were detained in Flanders and two in Wallonia. They are reported to come from various backgrounds.

In Monday evening’s interview, the Justice Minister said that one of the suspects had bought a machete, while another was planning to buy knives. All the youngsters detained had become radicalised online by hate preachers. They are not members of any one organisation. However, some of them had been in touch with each other via secure social media groups.

All four suspects have been sent to youth detention centres where the security services will keep a close eye on them and they will be contacted by organisations that help with deradicalization.

Previously the Justice Minister had given extra funding to the security services to enable them to work more effectively to counter radicalisation and terrorism. A new law is being prepared that will make it easier for the security services to patrol the internet using false identities.


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