Belgium – Belgian police have detained three men in the western Belgian town of Kortrijk with links to “radicalized groups” and found weapons while searching their homes, prosecutors said on the 27 Jan 15. Confirming the detentions, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors said they were checking whether there was any link between the three men and the Islamist group. Belgian officials estimate that some 350 people have left Belgium to fight alongside groups such as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), with some of them planning attacks in Belgium on their return from the conflict zone.
France – Police in southern France have detained five Chechens on suspicion of preparing an attack, prosecutors stated on the 20 Jan 15. The arrests took place in Beziers and Saint-Jean-de-Vedas, near Montpellier. It is not known whether the arrest of the Chechens is connected to the attacks in Paris earlier this month. One suspect was arrested in the city of Beziers and another four were detained near Saint-Jean-de-Vedas, according to local media. Certain "products" were recovered during police searches, officials stated, without giving further details. Unconfirmed reports said a stash of explosives was found.
At least two people were arrested during an anti-jihadist operation in southern France that was still ongoing early on Tuesday 27 Jan 15 a security source stated. The operation took place in the small town of Lunel east of Montpellier in southern France, from where around 20 young people have left for Syria. Six of them, aged 18 to 30, have been killed since Oct 14.
The French counterterrorism police on the 27 Jan 15 raided the southern town of Lunel and arrested five people in an operation aimed at rooting out a suspected jihadist network, a senior police official said. Christophe Crépin, a spokesman for the UNSA police union, said that the five people arrested were suspected of being part of a group that had been recruiting people to join militants fighting in Syria. He said the arrests were part of a continuing effort to combat terrorism after the deadly attacks this month in and near Paris that left 17 people dead. “Those arrested and being questioned are suspected of being part of a group that was recruiting people to go to Syria. It’s only the beginning,” Mr. Crépin said. “After what happened, France is being very careful about any risks.” Antiterrorism prosecutors in Paris have been investigating whether Lunel has been infiltrated by a jihadist or sleeper cell network like the so-called Buttes-Chaumont group. That network once provided fighters to battle United States troops in Iraq, and it was a training ground for at least one of the men behind the recent terrorist attacks, Chérif Kouachi. Lunel, a town of 25,700, has been under scrutiny by the counterterrorism authorities after it was discovered last year that six local Muslims had been killed while fighting in Syria. The town’s authorities have been grappling to understand how Lunel has become a breeding ground for jihadists. Investigators say that Lunel has become emblematic of how certain towns, or even streets, in cities can become hotbeds for Islamic militants as networks take root. The authorities have expressed concern that Al Baraka mosque in Lunel might have become a magnet for extremists and a centre for jihadist recruitment. The mosque recently elected a new president, and its imam has condemned the Paris attacks.
Germany – German police searched more than a dozen suspected Islamist sites early on the 20 Jan 15 seeking associates of two men who have been detained for allegedly planning an attack in Syria, police stated. No one was detained in the raids, which saw more than 200 officers search 13 apartments in Berlin, a neighbouring region and in the east, said a police statement. Police said they targeted people who were in close contact with two men who had been detained after raids in Berlin on the 16 Jan 15; an alleged leader of a Turkish and Russian group planning an attack in Syria, and the man in charge of financing the organization.
Spain – Four suspected members of an Islamist militant network have been arrested in the Spanish territory of Ceuta, which borders Morocco it was reported on the 24 Jan 15. Two Moroccans and two Spaniards were arrested in raids on two properties by Moroccan and Spanish police. Spanish police said the men were "prepared and willing" to carry out a terror attack in Spain. Some 50 suspected jihadists have been arrested by Spanish police over the past year, the ministry has said. Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said the men arrested on the 24 Jan were two pairs of brothers who were "highly radicalised and highly trained". A pistol, combat uniforms, machetes, number plates, documents and computer equipment were seized in the dawn raids. Police said the men had a "similar profile" to those who carried out the recent attacks in Paris, and that they had been inspired by internet propaganda by the jihadist Islamic State group. The interior ministry made no link between the latest arrests and continuing investigations into suspects linked to this month's attacks in Paris and intercepted plots in Belgium, some of whom are said to have travelled to Spain.