Monday

21st Jan 2019

Evidence of new terrorist plot in EU capital

Belgium has raised the terrorist threat level for police stations in Brussels following intelligence of another jihadist plot.

Authorities on Tuesday (29 December) raised the level from two to three in measures to last until 4 January.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The move means: there’ll be armed officers outside police stations; opening hours and public access will be restricted; officers can go on patrol only in pairs; and police auxillaries can only move around with an armed escort.

The alert comes after house raids in the Belgian and EU capital on Sunday and Monday led to two arrests, as well as seizures of computer equipment, Islamic State (IS) propaganda, and military clothes, but not weapons.

According to an internal police note, dated Monday, and seen by the Belga news agency, there is “a possible and credible threat of Paris-type attacks” against: visitors to the Grand Place, in Brussels’ tourist centre; the main police station adjoining the square; and against police and military personnel in general.

The attack was to be carried out in the New Year holiday period. But it was not said to be "imminent," which would have merited a level four alert.

Belgium in general is, in any case, on level three since November, when security services expected a Paris-type attack against shopping centres. But police facilities had been left on level two.

The general level three alert means soldiers in combat fatigues continue to patrol the streets in Brussels' city centre, putting a dampener on the atmosphere, with shops, bars, and restaurants less busy than normal.

The sense of alarm comes after IS-inspired gunmen killed 130 people in Paris on 13 November, with several of the attackers linked to Belgium.

But the Brussels military patrols have also become part of normality, with one soldier recently pictured with a shopping bag.

Other European cities, including London and Moscow, are also taking extra security precautions after an unnamed intelligence service uncovered signs of a Paris-type plan to attack New Year’s revellers.

Belgium has the highest concentration in the world per capita of nationals who went to fight with IS in Syria.

France, Belgium step up security cooperation

Two months and a half after the Paris attacks, the French and Belgian PMs agreed on closer cooperation as the two countries faced "the same terrorist threat".

Germany led way on EU rights protection

Germany led the way on protection of human rights this year, but Hungary, Italy, and Poland "undermined the EU's moral standing" on the world stage, a leading NGO said.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us