Belgium arrests man suspected of plotting attack against US embassy

A security officer checks a car at the US embassy in Brussels. (AP Photo)
Updated 24 June 2019
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Belgium arrests man suspected of plotting attack against US embassy

  • The suspect identified only as M.G. appeared Monday morning before an investigating judge who ordered him held
  • Extremists have staged a number of attacks in Brussels, which hosts the headquarters of the European Union and NATO

BRUSSELS: Belgian counter-terror police have arrested a man suspected of plotting an attack against the US embassy in Brussels, federal prosecutors said Monday.
The police on Saturday arrested the man following “converging signs raising fears of an attack against the US embassy,” the prosecutor’s office said.
“The suspect has been detained for an alleged attempted attack within a terrorist context and preparation of a terrorist offense,” it said in a statement.
The suspect identified only as M.G. appeared Monday morning before an investigating judge who ordered him held, it added.
The suspect denies any involvement in the alleged plot.
A source close to the investigation told AFP the suspect is a Belgian man of around 40 years who had “raised suspicion because of his behavior.”
He had been seen “scouting” the embassy area before he was arrested, the source added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The source declined to say whether the suspect fit the profile of an extremist.
The US embassy was not immediately available for comment.
Extremists have staged a number of attacks in Brussels, which hosts the headquarters of the European Union and NATO.
The worst was on March 22, 2016, when suicide bombers killed 32 people and wounded hundreds of others at Brussels airport and a metro station near EU buildings.
The Daesh group claimed responsibility for the twin attacks.
Since 2016, several other attacks, some of them also claimed by Daesh, have targeted Belgian police or soldiers.
The last “terrorist attack” occurred in the eastern city of Liege on May 29 last year when Benjamin Herman shot dead two women police officers and a student.
He was subsequently shot dead by the police.
Since the end of January 2018, the terror alert level in Belgium has been set at two, which means an attack is considered unlikely, the same as it was before January 2015.
A level three alert — indicating an attack is possible and likely — was set later in January 2015 after police smashed an extremist cell in the eastern city of Verviers.
The Belgian police raid occurred a week after attacks against the Charlie Hebdo magazine and Jewish supermarket in Paris.
The level four alert — which means a serious and imminent threat of attack — has been put in place twice but for limited duration.
It was imposed for the first time for a week in the wake of the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris which claimed the lives of 130 people and wounded hundreds of others.
It was then raised from three to four in the days after the March 2016 attacks.
Police say they believe the same cell was behind both the French and Belgium attacks.


UN nuclear watchdog chief Amano has died, IAEA tell member states

Updated 5 min 46 sec ago
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UN nuclear watchdog chief Amano has died, IAEA tell member states

  • The 72-year-old Japanese had held the position of IAEA director general since 2009
  • Argentina's ambassador to the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, is running to succeed Amano, and diplomats say the agency's chief coordinator Cornel Feruta of Romania, effectively Amano's chief of staff, is likely to run

VIENNA: UN nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano has died, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Monday, just as he was preparing to step down because of an unspecified illness.
The 72-year-old Japanese had held the position of IAEA director general since 2009, taking over from Mohamed ElBaradei and steering the UN agency through a period of intense diplomacy over Iran's nuclear program.
He had been preparing to leave his position in March, well before the end of his third four-year term, which ran until Nov. 30, 2021.
The IAEA announced last September that Amano had undergone an unspecified medical procedure. The specific nature of his illness has remained a taboo subject within the agency, diplomats say, but with each public appearance he had appeared increasingly frail.
“The Secretariat of the International Atomic Energy Agency regrets to inform with deepest sadness of the passing away of Director General Yukiya Amano,” the secretariat's note read.
The note did not lay out a timeframe for naming his successor, though a race to succeed him had been taking shape since last week, when it became clear he would step down early.
Argentina's ambassador to the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, is running to succeed Amano, and diplomats say the agency's chief coordinator Cornel Feruta of Romania, effectively Amano's chief of staff, is likely to run. Others could also enter the fray.