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Jihadists arrested in Athens

18 January 2015 / 18:01:45  GRReporter
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Greek police arrested four suspected jihadists of Arab descent on Saturday in the Athens neighbourhood of Pankrati. The arrests were made while hunting for the Moroccan, believed to be the leader of the Belgian jihadist group, which had been planning a bloody attack in the town of Verviers, eastern Belgium, and was dismantled on Friday by the Belgian police.

Yesterday the Belgian media reported that 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaud was probably the head of the terrorist cell. He left Belgium to fight for the Islamic state in Syria. In the days around the New Year, he had telephone conversations with an inmate in a Liege prison. According to reports, the calls came from Greece, somewhere around the Attica region, and were used by the terrorists’ leader to give instructions to group members. The Liege inmate is the brother of one of the two terrorists killed by Belgian police on Friday.

The Belgian law enforcers and Interpol  had alerted the Greek authorities as early as Thursday, and the latter launched an investigation, which led to the arrests. Initially it was thought that one of the four apprehended was Abaaud himself as his facial features matched the description provided by the Belgian police. Genetic material, as well as fingerprints, were taken from the suspects and sent to Brussels for identification.

One of the suspects identified himself before the police as Omar, but it is not yet clear whether it is an alias or a false lead. Nothing else is known about the other three detainees, but there is no doubt they are jihadists. Anti-terrorist officers have thoroughly searched the Pankrati apartment, and are currently investigating their contacts and actions on Greek territory.

A mobile telephone was found on one of the arrested, with its number matching the one wiretapped by the Belgian authorities. This is what makes the Greek police believe that the detainees are linked to the Belgian jihadists.

However, the Belgian federal prosecutor Eric van der Sypt has said that the men arrested in Greece had no link with the jihadist group raided in Vervier. The Belgian authorities have declined comments as to whether the terrorists have been based in Greece or in Turkey, as reported yesterday by most of the Belgian media.

Tags: arrests jihadists Pankrati Athens
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