Raided Belgian Cell Had Possible Targets in Second City Antwerp

Belgian police officers and soldiers control the access to Belgian international airport of Zaventem airport, which is still not operating, more than a week after the attacks in Brussels metro and the airport, in Zaventem, Belgium, April 1, 2016. A suspected Belgian Islamist group raided on Wednesday had potential attack targets in Belgium's second city of Antwerp including the main railway station. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS, May 26 – A suspected Belgian Islamist group raided on Wednesday had potential attack targets in Belgium’s second city of Antwerp including the main railway station, a source close to the investigation said on Thursday.

Belgian police searched eight homes on Wednesday, mostly in the port city, and detained four teenagers who were charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist organisation.

Those detained are suspected of seeking to recruit people to travel to Syria or Libya. Some are also suspected of planning to join Daesh there themselves.

Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad said the group members were in direct contact with a prominent Belgian militant in Daesh’s de facto capital Raqqa in Syria.

The group received orders from Hicham Chaib, also known as Abu Hanifa al-Baljiki (The Belgian), the newspaper said. Chaib, who grew up in an Antwerp suburb, has been seen in a Daesh video taunting his own country.

No weapons or explosives were found during the house searches and there was no apparent link with the March 22 suicide bombings at the international airport and on the metro in Brussels that killed 31 people.

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