ISIS Directed Verviers, Belgium Attack That Was Foiled Just In Time, Authorities Say
Police in Belgium performed a counter-terrorism raid that prevented an imminent attack that was linked to ISIS, CNN reports. The alleged terror cell in Verviers, Belgium, had received instructions from the terrorist group, and several members had been to Syria to discuss revenge for airstrikes performed by the United States in Syria and Iran, a senior Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN. The police operation, which left two people dead and a third injured, came after terrorist attacks in France shocked the world and left Europe on high alert for new attacks.
Twelve people were killed in a terrorist attack on Paris satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and the attack led to a manhunt for the gunmen, who were eventually killed during a hostage situation. At that same time, a man who apparently had connections with the two gunmen, Said and Cherif Kouachi, was also keeping several people hostage. Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Though authorities said they were exploring possible links between those attacks and the thwarted plot in Belgium, it now appears this terror cell in Verviers was connected to ISIS, not al Qaeda. But they were planning something soon. Thierry Werts, the prosecutor's spokesman in Belgium, told CNN:
The investigation made it possible to determine that the group was about to carry out major terrorist attacks in Belgium imminently.
The suspects in the raid had been under surveillance for a while after returning to Belgium from Syria. Authorities say other anti-terrorism raids are underway in Brussels and Verviers, which is about 70 miles from Brussels, the capital and largest city of Belgium.
The Belgium counterterrorism official who spoke to CNN said France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Germany are all on high alert for terrorist threats. With more than 3,000 Europeans fighting against ISIS in Syria over recent years and several other factors, CNN reports that Europe is facing an "unprecedented" level of terrorism threat.