Belgium Arrests 12 Amid Report of Plot to Attack Soccer Fans

Belgian authorities arrested 12 people after conducting anti-terror raids in Brussels and across the country amid press reports of a plot to attack fans gathering to watch the national soccer team.
Security forces raided a string of properties and 152 lock-up garages on Friday night and in the early hours of Saturday, Belgium’s federal prosecutor in Brussels said in an e-mailed statement. Prime Minister Charles Michel called for calm and said public events will go ahead with a heightened level of security. The country’s terror alert will remain at level 3 out of 4.
“The security services have obviously been extremely vigilant,” Michel told reporters after an emergency meeting with cabinet members and counter-terror chiefs. “We will continue our fight against extremism, against radicalism, against terrorism.”
Counter-terrorism forces across Europe have increased security during the European soccer championships, particularly in France where the tournament is taking place until July 10. Belgium’s game against Ireland in the southern French city of Bordeaux kicked off at 3 p.m. local time on Saturday.

Belgium vs Ireland

On the 12 people arrested, “the investigating judge will decide on their possible detention later today,” the prosecutor said. He didn’t confirm a report by broadcaster VTM that the terrorists were planning to attack fans -- possibly on Saturday -- while Belgium’s soccer team play in the Euro 2016 tournament.
Fans arriving at a big-screen showing of the game in downtown Brussels were to go through toughened security checks and face police scrutiny, the Belga news agency reported.
In total, police questioned 40 people during Friday’s overnight raids. No arms or explosives were found, the prosecutor said.
Belgium has been on a high state of alert since terrorists allied to the Islamic State group killed 32 people in suicide bombings at Brussels airport and on the city’s subway. The federal government has deployed soldiers on streets around prominent buildings and introduced increased security checks for travelers and commuters.

Security Protection

Since Friday evening, several members of Belgium’s federal government, including Prime Minister Michel, have been subject to heightened security protection, broadcaster RTBF said, without saying where it got the information. The overnight anti-terror raids were not linked to the threat to politicians, RTBF said.
A Belgian citizen, identified only as Youssef E.A., born on Aug. 4, 1985, was arrested and detained in connection with the March attacks, the federal prosecutor said in a statement sent by e-mail late Friday.
Separately, a French terror probe is underway after Larossi Abballa, who swore allegiance to Islamic State, stabbed a policeman and his partner to death on Monday and may have planned similar attacks on rap stars, public figures and the media, according to investigators.
Abballa, the attacker, was killed by police inside the couple’s house near Paris.
The Paris prosecutor on Saturday said it’s investigating and requesting detention of two other individuals, Charaf-Din Aberouz and Saad Rajraji, following the slaying. Aberouz, Rajraj and Abballa had been convicted in 2013 in a previous terror case.