Saturday, January 17, 2015

17-Jan-15: Scenes from the warzones - Saturday update

Belgium, this week [Image Source]
Athens, today: AFP reports this evening that four people ("at least") were arrested in Athens today "as part of a probe into a jihadist cell that was dismantled in Belgium this week before it could carry out any attacks" according to a Greek police source. The arrests occurred in the Pangrati district of Athens in the middle of Saturday. They think, though there seems to be some doubt, that the arrested include Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind of the cell planning the foiled attacks from Greece. These arrests come on top of dozens of others across Europe, in raids targetting Islamists.

Brussels, today: The BBC says uniformed soldiers were seen guarding Jewish schools and government buildings in Belgium today. Belgium's interior minister said his country "had to make use of all the forces at its disposal". The report quotes defence ministry officials saying 150 police are already in place, a figure that could double in the coming days until the situation is reviewed next week. Associated Press says they are currently protecting synagogues in Antwerp, the Jewish Museum in Brussels and other sites and include paratroopers, "the first time in 30 years that authorities used troops to reinforce police in Belgium’s cities".  Belgium's terror warning level now stands at 3, the second-highest level. Justice Minister Koen Geens said Saturday that “we hope the worst has been avoided but we need to prepare for the most difficult to come.”

London, Friday: An 18-year-old woman was arrested by anti-terror officers at Stansted Airport Friday on suspicion of terrorism offences. One British report quotes a Scotland Yard source saying she was taken to a central London police station for questioning on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts and membership of a banned organisation. It said authorities were not revealing at this stage where she was travelling from. The Daily Mail UK covers the same incident, and names "A-level student Silhan Ozcelik" who was 17 when she "went missing in October", and describes her as "Kurdish teenager, from Highbury Corner, North London."

Sydney, Friday: The Daily Telegraph reports that Australian authorities deported a man described as "a former Australian factory worker... who had also breached his visa" on Wednesday, and that he was promptly arrested in Malaysia on arrival there, on suspicion of running an Australian IS terror cell. Malaysia's Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division officials were waiting for the man when he arrived at Kuala Lumpur's International Airport Friday morning.  "The terror cell was reported to consist of the man and a married Malaysian couple who were also deported, on January 7, and also arrested on arrival [back in Malaysia]. They had reportedly travelled to Australia with their 14-month-old daughter [and were] recruiting Malaysian militants and sending them to Turkey and eventually Syria via Australia."

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