Belgium – Belgium has charged two more suspects in connection with last month's Brussels airport and metro attacks, according to the federal prosecutor's office on the 12 Apr 16. A statement said Smail F and Ibrahim F were "charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempts to commit terrorist murders". The prosecutor said that there were indications the two men could be linked to an address in the Avenue des Casernes in the Etterbeek district of Brussels which was raided last week. At the time, police said they found nothing at the address but reports later suggested that two men, one of whom later blew himself up in the Maalbeek metro station, may have stayed there or used it at some point. The second man, later identified by authorities as Osama K, was apparently also carrying a bomb, but for reasons unknown did not go through with the attack. Three suicide bombers - two at the airport and one at the metro station in central Brussels - killed at least 32 people in Belgium's worst terror attack which was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. Investigators have found extensive links between the Brussels and November Paris attacks, with many of the same people involved and linked to ISIL in Syria.
Germany/Da’esh – Islamic State posted pictures on the Internet calling on German Muslims to carry out Brussels-style attacks in Germany, singling out Chancellor Angela Merkel`s offices and the Cologne-Bonn airport as targets, the SITE intelligence group reported on the 1 Apr 16. Western Europe is on high security alert after last week`s Islamic State suicide bombings in the Belgian capital that killed 32 people at its airport and in a metro station. On Wednesday, France said it was investigating a man on suspicion of planning an imminent act of "extreme violence". The Islamic State images and graphics, widely published by German media on the 31 Mar 16 included slogans in German inciting Muslims to commit violence against the "enemy of Allah." Germany`s BKA federal police, who monitor suspected militants with German passports returning from stints fighting in Syria and Iraq, said it knew of the images but that their publication did not necessitate extra security measures. "We are aware of this material and our experts are checking it," a BKA spokeswoman said. It is clear that Germany is the focus of international terrorism and that attacks could happen, but this material doesn`t change our security assessment." Federal police chief Holger Muench said after the March 22 attacks in Brussels that Islamic State appeared eager to carry out further "spectacular" attacks in Europe as it was suffering setbacks on battlefields in Iraq and Syria. One of the disseminated Islamic State images features a militant in combat fatigues standing in a field and gazing at Cologne-Bonn airport with a caption reading: "What your brothers in Belgium were able to do, you can do too." Another shows the German chancellery building in Berlin on fire with an Islamic State fighter and a tank standing outside the structure. The headline reads: "Germany is a battlefield." Germany joined the U.S.-led air strike campaign against Islamic State in Syria last year, though limiting its role to reconnaissance and refuelling missions, after the jihadist group killed 130 people in shooting and bombing attacks in Paris. A third graphic featured a military jet, which German media identified as a Tornado used by the German air force, against the backdrop of a mountainous area juxtaposed with the bloodied faces of women and children - apparently meant to represent civilians who Islamic State says have been killed by air strikes on areas it controls. The caption under this image says: "Will you continue to grieve or will you finally act?" All five pictures circulated on social media on the 30 Mar 16 bore the logo of Furat Media, an Islamic State affiliate, according to SITE. German media also published an Islamic State video celebrating the attacks in Brussels that featured a three-second shot of Frankfurt Airport, apparently taken from German television news footage. The BKA spokeswoman said police were aware of that video as well and current security measures were sufficient.
Germany/Da’esh – Da’esh wants to carry out attacks in Germany and the security situation is “very serious,” the head of the country’s domestic intelligence agency (BfV) told a Sunday newspaper on the 10 Apr 16, adding that he knew of no concrete plot to strike. The militant group released a video on the 31 Mar 16 suggesting it may carry out further attacks in the West after the Brussels bombings and Paris attacks, naming London, Berlin and Rome as possible targets. Hans-Georg Maassen told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag the group wanted to carry out attacks against Germany and German interests, but added: “At the moment we don’t have any knowledge of any concrete terrorist attack plans in Germany.” He said ISIS propaganda was aimed at encouraging supporters to take the initiative to stage attacks in Germany. Maassen said there were several cases linking Germans returning from Syria to attack plans and warned that the danger posed by extremists from Germany remained “virulent.” He said the country had avoided a big attack so far thanks to the successful work of security authorities and luck such as a bomb detonator not working properly on one or two occasions.
Spain – Spanish police said on the 13 Apr 16 they had detained a Frenchman suspected of heading a weapons trafficking ring that supplied arms to one of the militants that killed 17 people in Paris in Jan 15. In a statement, police said Antoine Denevi, a 27-year-old from a small town in northern France, was detained on the 12 Apr 16 in the southern Malaga area after Paris issued a Europe-wide arrest warrant. He "left the neighbouring country [France] weeks after the Paris attacks to escape police action, and settled in the province of Malaga from where he continued his illegal activities using fake papers," the police said. "It's also been determined that his activities were linked with people of Serbian origin, who may have facilitated his access to arms and munitions." Police suspect that Denevi's alleged trafficking ring armed Amedy Coulibaly, who shot dead a policewoman and took hostages in a Jewish supermarket, where he killed four people. An expert in arms trafficking in France told said that the weapons used by Coulibaly — a Czech-made Scorpion submachine pistol and a Kalashnikov rifle — were "very easily" available. Coulibaly was an accomplice of the Kouachi brothers, who killed 12 people in an attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo two days before Coulibaly held up the supermarket. All three were shot dead by police. Both Spanish and French police participated in the 12 Apr operation in the seaside resort of Rincon de la Victoria, during which two other people were detained — one from Serbia and another from Montenegro. Denevi, who hails from the small town of Sainte-Catherine, was immediately taken to Madrid, where he was brought before a judge in the National Court. The National Court, which hears cases related to extremism, has charged Denevi with arms trafficking. So far no terrorism charges have been brought against him, which could indicate he was unaware of the use for which the weapons were intended. A judicial source said the suspect had denied selling weapons to militants and accepted to be extradited to France. The three-day attacks in Jan 15 shook France, prompting much soul-searching as to how three French youths could gun down 17 fellow citizens in cold blood. The trio had very specific targets — the cartoonists who had mocked the Prophet Mohammed in Charlie Hebdo's pages, the police and Jews. Coulibaly was shot dead in the Jewish supermarket on the 9 Jan in a dramatic raid by French special forces. The Kouachi brothers were also killed by special forces in a near simultaneous assault on a printing factory just outside Paris where they had holed up. The three-day killing spree was, at the time, the worst extremist attack on European soil in nearly a decade, but militants hit Paris again in November, killing 130 people.
United Kingdom/Da’esh – Prime Minister David Cameron warned that ISIS terrorists are planning to use drones to spray nuclear material over Western cities in a lethal “dirty bomb” attack it was reported on the 4 Apr 16. Security experts are worried about jihadists buying simple drones, which are widely available, and use them to carry radioactive material into the centres of large cities in attacks which would kill thousands and contaminate large sections of cities, making entire areas uninhabitable for years. Cameron warned that the dangers of ISIS getting hold of nuclear material was “only too real.” The Mirror reports that Cameron on the 1 Apr 16 met in Washington, D.C. with world leaders to plan how to prevent – and, if need be, react to – such an attack. The threat is considered serious, and the world leaders, meeting for the fourth Nuclear Security Summit, were asked to take part in war games to plan how they would respond. Such war games are typically attended by technical and military staff, not political leaders. The Mirror notes that one scenario, highlighted the danger in remarkable detail. It envisioned radioactive material being taken from a medical facility by “insiders” who then sold it to extremists through the Internet’s secretive “dark web.” Cameron outlined how cabinet ministers would hold an emergency meeting of COBRA [Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms, the acronyms used for high-level cabinet meetings on security issues] and order the deployment of counterterrorism police and the U.K. Border Force. A British official said: “We have already seen Da’esh [ISIS] trying to look at whether they can they get their hands on low-level crop-using-type drones.” ISIS came into possession of about 90 pounds of low grade uranium from Mosul University after taking over the city in 2014. There are also fears in Europe about insider risks to nuclear facilities. Belgium has recently revoked the security clearance of eleven employees in the country’s two nuclear plants. Cameron told journalists in Washington, D.C. that concerns over a radioactive attack were real. “So many summits are about dealing with things that have already gone wrong,” he said. “This is a summit about something we are trying to prevent. “The issue of nuclear security and the security of nuclear materials, particularly when it comes to the problems of international terrorism, the concept of terrorists and nuclear materials coming together — which is obviously a very chilling prospect. And something in the light of the Belgian attacks, we know is a threat that is only too real. “That’s the point of being here and that action Britain has taken with America, very much giving a lead on nuclear security, and the security of nuclear sites, transport and materials.” American sources told reporters who covered the summit that U.S. Special Forces have been trained to seize and disable nuclear and dirty bombs. Cameron announced that Britain would deploy 1,000 more armed police and counterterrorism units to cities outside London to help counter any terrorist attack. Michael Fallon, the defence Secretary, yesterday announced that more than £40 million will be spent on a new Cyber Security Operations Centre. The facility will be dedicated to using “state-of-the-art defensive cyber capabilities” to protect Britain from “malicious actors,” Fallon said. Fallon added: “Britain is a world leader in cyber security but with growing threats this new Operations Centre will ensure that our Armed Forces continue to operate securely.”
United Kingdom – Police believe they have smashed a major British terror cell linked to the masterminds of the atrocities in Paris and Brussels after cracking a mobile phone used by one of the attackers it was reported on the 15 Apr 16. Four men and a woman from Birmingham were held as officers swooped on the suspected UK arm of the fanatical group who killed 162 in Paris and Brussels in a wave of gun attacks and suicide bombings. The raids will confirm fears that Islamic State is active in Britain after it emerged that the cell has been under surveillance for at least four months. Police said no targets had been identified but pictures of a football stadium and shopping centres were on suspects’ phones. The dramatic developments came after months of secret surveillance following the arrest of Mohamed Abrini, a key player in the Paris and Brussels attacks. A European security official claimed Abrini had made ‘multiple trips’ to Birmingham last year to meet home-grown terror suspects as it also emerged that: Officers sprung into action as one of the suspected terrorists was flying into Gatwick in the early hours of the 15 Apr 16. Crucial evidence secured from Abrini’s mobile phone is thought to have led to the arrests. At least two main members of the European IS cell visited Birmingham in the months leading up to the attack on Paris in November. The 26-year-old arrested at Gatwick Airport is understood to have flown in on an Easyjet flight from Marrakech. Officers boarded the plane upon its arrival at Gatwick from Morroco and detained the man. A source said: ‘He was behaving perfectly normally during the flight. He had a chat with a woman sat next to him and then fell asleep.’ A taxi drivers home was being searched in connection with the anti-terror raids in Birmingham. A bomb disposal squad was seen earlier at the semi-detached in Small Heath. Neighbours said a married father-of-four who worked as a taxi driver was arrested on the evening of the 14 Apr 16. West Midlands Police said officers working with MI5 and Belgian and French authorities swooped in an operation ‘to address any associated threat to the UK following the attacks in Europe’. Three men aged 26, 40 and 59, and a 29-year-old woman were held in Birmingham on Thursday night, while a 26-year-old man was intercepted on Friday morning at Gatwick as he flew back into the UK. The breakthrough in the hunt for those linked to the attacks across the Channel comes less than a week after police in Belgium identified the elusive ‘man in the hat’ caught on CCTV at Brussels airport. Abrini, who had already been linked to November’s attack on Paris, was arrested in Belgium and has confessed to being the third man. French intelligence sources say Abrini met Islamist fanatics in Birmingham four months before a series of gun attacks and suicide bombings in the French capital left 130 dead. They said Abrini, 31, a Belgian of Moroccan origin, visited the West Midlands last July before flying back to France, raising concerns over British support of the terror cell now known to have been behind both attacks on the two European capitals. While he was still on the run, Interpol president Mireille Ballestrazzi told the BBC’s Panorama that photos of an unspecified football stadium had been found on Abrini’s phone. Three of the Paris attackers attempted to enter the Stade de France during an international football friendly between France and Germany, before blowing themselves up outside. A security official said that Abrini had made multiple trips to Birmingham last year, meeting with several men suspected of terrorist activity. Surveillance had been taking place on suspected cell members in the Birmingham area since the Paris attacks, the official said. A second security official with access to Belgian counter-terrorism data said West Midlands Police had closed in on a ring of suspects linked to Abrini’s phone after his arrest. Abrini is the second member of the terror cell thought to have been in the UK after it emerged the mastermind behind Paris, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was also in Birmingham and London in the months before the November attacks. Abaaoud, 28, also of Moroccan origin, was killed in a French police raid a week after the Paris attacks. He was known to have visited Birmingham in October and had photos of places in the city on his smartphone, including shopping centres and football stadiums, raising concern he may have been visiting jihadis, carrying out reconnaissance on targets – or both. West Midlands Police said in Dec 15 that they were taking links between the Paris attackers and Birmingham ‘deadly seriously’ after the photos emerged. A British security source that the arrests were ‘Paris and Brussels-related’, and that Abrini was the main focus of the British investigation. It is understood that at least one of those under arrest yesterday is of Moroccan descent. Abrini is a childhood friend of Salah Abdeslam, 26, who also escaped after the Paris killings but was captured in Brussels days before the attacks on the city’s airport and metro. Abrini is also accused of having accompanied two suicide bombers to Brussels airport before leaving behind a bomb in a bag and walking back into the city. He has told investigators that Abdeslam’s arrest on March 18 in Brussels prompted the conspirators to move forward plans for the follow-up attack, which came four days later in the city and killed 32. A Belgian judge on the 14 Apr ordered Abrini and six other suspects arrested over the attacks in Paris and Brussels to be kept behind bars for another month. Last night Whitehall officials described the arrests in Britain as ‘significant’. Police have 48 hours to question three of the suspects and 36 hours to question the two others.