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Anti-terror arrests take on pan-European dimension

© Marten van Dijl, AFP | Dutch police officers in Rotterdam, following the arrest of French national Anis B.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-03-28

The fallout from last week’s attacks in Brussels is taking on an increasingly pan-European dimension, with arrests made over the weekend in the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, all linked to planned terrorist assaults in France.

On Sunday, Dutch anti-terrorism police arrested a 32-year-old French man in Rotterdam, following a request from Paris, on suspicion of preparing an attack on France. National prosecutors said three other people had also been detained.

Identified as Anis B., the man is suspected of having links to Reda Kriket, who was arrested in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil on Thursday. Kriket is accused of being at an “advanced stage” of planning a terrorist atrocity in France on behalf of the Islamic State (IS) group and is thought to be part of a network led by Khalid Zerkani, who was described by Belgian prosecutors as the country’s “biggest recruiter” of jihadist fighters.

Dutch prosecutors said that among the three others arrested, two were aged 43 and 47, and had “Algerian backgrounds”. The third has not been identified.

Anis B. will be extradited to France as quickly as possible, prosecutors said.

In Belgium, police on Friday arrested two men – Rabah N. and Abderamane A. The latter is suspected of helping two Tunisians assassinate Afghan warlord Ahmed Shah Massoud two days before the 9/11 terror attacks in New York in 2001.

Belgian prosecutors on Monday announced that they had charged a further three men – Yassine A., Mohamed B. and Aboubaker O. – for “participating in terror activities”.

On Saturday, Italian police arrested an Algerian national in a probe into fake IDs used by the Paris attackers, which suggests that the attackers’ network spreads beyond France and Belgium.

The suspect, identified as Djamal Eddine Ouali, 40, was interrogated Sunday but refused to speak, a judicial source said.

Brussels prosecutors said the fake documents were "probably" also used by Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving Paris attacks suspect, who was arrested in Brussels on March 18. The probe is investigating whether the same source also produced documents for those behind the March 22 attacks in the Belgian capital.

On Saturday, a Belgian suspect identified as Faycal Cheffou, suspected of being the fugitive third bomber from last week’s Brussels airport bombing, was charged in Brussels with terrorist murder and participation in a terrorist group.

There has been intense speculation over whether he is the man wearing a dark hat and light-coloured jacket seen in airport surveillance footage alongside Ibrahim El Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui, who blew themselves up.

On Sunday evening, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement that France remained “at a very high state of alert”, while praising cooperation with European partners.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday the Brussels attacks highlighted the "great urgency" for Europe to tackle the problem of young jihadists returning from fighting in Syria to carry out attacks.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2016-03-28

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