BRUSSELS, June 21, (Agencies): Belgium said on Wednesday a Moroccan man carried out a foiled terrorist attack with a nail bomb at a busy Brussels train station, the latest in a wave of attacks to hit Europe. The 36-year-old man, identified only as O.Z, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and tried to detonate a suitcase in a group of passengers at Brussels Central station before a soldier shot him dead on Tuesday.
The suspect, from the largely immigrant Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek which has been linked to a number of previous attacks, was not known to police for terrorism offences. “It could have been much worse,” Belgian federal prosecutor’s spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt told a news conference. “It is clear that he wanted to cause more damage than he did.” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said a “terrorist attack has been prevented” in the city that hosts the EU and NATO headquarters. But he said that while security would be stepped up, the country’s terror alert level would be kept stable. “We are not allowing ourselves to be intimidated by terrorists,” he added.
The blast came a day after a man mowed down Muslims near a mosque in London, and a suspected Islamist on a terror watchlist rammed a car laden with weapons into a police vehicle in Paris. Brussels has been on high alert since suicide bombers struck Zavantem Airport and the Maalbeek metro station near the EU quarter in March 2016, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds more.
The Islamic State group claimed the attacks, which were carried out by the same Brussels-based cell behind the November 2015 suicide bombings and shootings in Paris which left 130 people dead. In Tuesday’s incident, the man failed to cause any casualties. He entered the station and twice approached a group of around 10 passengers, the second time standing in the middle of them, prosecutors said.
Dutch arrest terror suspect: Dutch police are holding an 18-year-old terror suspect who may have tried to teach others how to make explosives, prosecutors revealed Wednesday. The teenager was arrested in the central city of Utrecht last Thursday, and is also suspected of “spreading ISIS propaganda including violent videos,” Utrecht prosecutors said in a statement. “Police are also investigating indications that he may have instructed others how to make explosives,” the statement added, referring to the Islamic State jihadist group, also known as ISIS.
Police opened their probe after receiving information from the Dutch intelligence service (AIVD), which was remaining tight-lipped Wednesday. The teenager “was arrested last week for distributing ISIS propaganda online,” an AIVD official told AFP, asking not to be identified, and declining to provide further details. The teenager appeared before a Rotterdam court on Tuesday and was remanded in custody for two weeks. The Netherlands has so far been spared from the slew of terror attacks which have rocked its closest European neighbours recently, including an explosion late Tuesday at Brussels’ Central Station. But amid a number of scares here in recent months, and reports that people linked to some previous attacks in Brussels and Paris may have crossed briefl y into the country, top Dutch security and intelligence officials have been keeping a wary eye on events.