Greece police arrests four suspects over Belgium terror plot
Four terror suspects have been detained by Greek police in Athens over alleged links with the recent Islamist terror plot in Belgium.
The arrests, which took place on Saturday, come amid heightened anti-terror efforts across Europe following last week’s Paris attacks.
One of the detainees is believed to have had links with the terror cell in Verviers, Belgium, where two suspects died on Thursday following a shootout with police forces.
Two of those arrested in Athens are now believed to be unrelated to the events in Belgium, according to Belgian officials.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the 27-year-old suspected leader of the Belgian terror group, is thought to be among those being held by anti-terror police in Athens.
It is believed the Belgian, who is of Moroccan descent, has previously fought alongside the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and may have led and financed the dismantled Belgian jihadist cell from Greece.
In order to identify Abaaoud, Belgian authorities must process digital fingerprints and DNA samples sent from Greece. Belgian prosecutors have so far declined to confirm the identities of the four suspects.
Security forces are familiar with Abaaoud after he appeared in an IS video where he can be seen driving a car dragging dead bodies.
The arrests come as troops were deployed across Belgium on Saturday to guard potential terrorist targets and institutions.
Belgium launched a series of raids on Thursday evening on a group of suspected jihadists.
Weapons, bomb-making materials, police uniforms and fake documents were found during searches of their homes. Belgian police were believed to be the intended targets of the terror cell.
Belgian prosecutors said there were no immediate links with last week’s Islamist attacks in Paris on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and the Jewish supermarket.
Belgium estimates that 335 of its citizens have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq in the last few years, placing it top of the list of European nations in proportion to its small population of 11 million.