According to Western intelligence sources, an ongoing terror threat that appears to have more than 20 sleeper cells is ready to attack Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France. The source reported that Middle East and European Union intelligence agencies identified a possible threat to Netherlands and possibly Belgium.
The police raided one terror cell that was ready to carry out an attack on Thursday and two suspects shot dead, according to Belgian authorities. The third was slightly injured and arrested in an operation that targeted a building right in the city of Verviers, said prosecutor’s representative Thierry Werts. According to a senior counterterrorism official from Belgium, the terror cell is said to have gotten instructions for the militants ISIS.
The Belgian official said that some members that operated within the cell travelled to Syria where they met with the militants ISIS, and plotted the retaliatory attacks because the U.S led deadly airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
‘’This was an operational cell consisting up of an organized group of people who came from Syria, said Werts’’. According to the investigation, it was easy to conclude that these terrorist cells were about to attack Belgium imminently.
The ongoing operation added fuel to the fear that has already been simmering as hundreds of Europeans joined ISIS militants in Syria.
Would they become terrorists when they got back to their families?
Mr. Frédéric Hausman was indoors in his house when the explosions started. Peeping at the window, he was able to see police personnel firing rifles at a nearby house. He watched a lot of smoke in the air when another small terrifying explosion went off nearby. The police then entered the house, said Hausman. Even though nothing was visible for him to see, he almost heard everything.
‘’I heard it. Everybody could hear it, ‘’said Hausman. ‘’In our little city, it is easy to hear the sound. Gunfire, shouts and Hausman posted the vivid sound of shattering glass in a YouTube video.
The assailants, immediately started firing hand weapons and were neutralized shortly, said Werts.VTM, CNN affiliate reported that terrorism investigations in Belgium and Europe started months ago and no connection has been established with France attacks. According to a Western intelligence official, France attacks played a key role in speeding up the set up of the Belgian anti-terrorist operation. One reason, a Belgian rifle dealers suspected of selling weapons to Coulibaly, the man who raided France kosher supermarket also pledged allegiance to the ISIS. The sources said that Belgian anti-terrorist officials searched and questioned him for hours.
Through this rifle dealer, the Belgian anti-terrorist unit got several positive hits on a number of suspected extremists some of whom are known by authorities. However, in the wake of France attacks, the urgency to root out the sleeper cells was a key issue.
Moreover, anti-terrorism operations in the city have spread to other cities to quell any movement by the sleeper cells, said an official.
In recent months, European security personnel have received strong indications that the ISIS might have started moving their sleeper cells to Europe and directing them to cause attacks in their countries, said a Belgian counterterrorism personnel.
Security personnel in European countries were investigating a group of people who were from Iraq and Syria, said the official, including a group that had been confronted in Belgium.
According to the Belgian anti-terrorism unit, there were indications that ISIS was ordering attacks by instructing the sleeper cells to attack European countries. Before there was a campaign against the militants, there was minimal indication that ISIS leaders plotted against the west. As an alternative, the groups aimed to make a Muslim Islamic caliphate.
The anti-terrorism official named Belgium, UK, and France as the countries facing imminent threat. Germany anti-terrorism agencies are also on high alert after a number of sleeper cells began travelling to different European countries. A number of European countries such as Belgium, France, Netherlands and Britain are all participating in anti-terrorism measures to protect their citizens against imminent attacks.
Would the terrorists change tactic? There is also concern that a group called Khorasan may be plotting against the west. According to U.S security personnel, bomb maker and French al-Qaeda operative David Drugeon was talent spotting for European jihadis militants in Syria.