Belgium detains al-Qaeda suspects

Belgian police say they have detained 14 people suspected of being members of 
the al-Qaeda network.

They include a man believed to have been about to launch a suicide attack, 
officials said.

Federal prosecutor Johan Delmulle said police did not know where the suspected 
suicide attack was to have targeted.

The detentions come as a two-day European Union leaders' summit was due to 
start in Brussels on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Delmulle said the suspects could have been targeting Pakistan or 
Afghanistan, "but it can't be ruled out that Belgium or Europe could have been 
the target".

The man suspected of planning the suicide attack had "received the green light 
to carry out an operation from which he was not expected to come back" and "had 
said goodbye to his loved ones, because he wanted to enter paradise with a 
clear conscience," Mr Delmulle quoted investigators as saying.

'No choice'

"This information, linked to the fact that the EU summit is being held in 
Belgium at the moment, left us with no choice but to intervene today," he added.

A total of 242 police officers carried out 16 raids in Brussels and one in the 
eastern city of Liege, officials said.

The police investigation, described as the most important anti-terror inquiry 
in Belgium, targeted an alleged group of Belgian Islamists believed to have 
been trained in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, officials said, according 
to the AFP agency.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond says the investigation that led to the detentions 
appears to have been at least a year old.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/12/11 12:53:19 GMT


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