Raided Belgian Cell Had Possible Targets in Antwerp

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -
Belgian soldiers and a police officer patrol in central Brussels, November 21, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris. Belgium raised the alert status for its capital Brussels to the highest level on Saturday, shutting the metro and warning the public to avoid crowds because of a "serious and imminent" threat of an attack. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (Newscom TagID: rtrlseven468194.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]
Belgian soldiers and a police officer patrol in central Brussels, in 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris. (Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)

A suspected Belgian Islamist terror group raided on Wednesday had potential attack targets in Belgium’s second city of Antwerp including the main railway station, a source close to the investigation said on Thursday.

Belgian police searched eight homes on Wednesday, mostly in the port city, and detained four teenagers who were charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist organization. Those detained are suspected of seeking to recruit people to travel to Syria or Libya. Some are also suspected of planning to join Islamic State there themselves.

Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad said the group members were in direct contact with a prominent Belgian militant in Islamic State’s de facto capital Raqqa in Syria.

The group received orders from Hicham Chaib, also known as Abu Hanifa al-Baljiki (The Belgian), the newspaper said. Chaib, who grew up in an Antwerp suburb, has been seen in an Islamic State video taunting his own country.

No weapons or explosives were found during the house searches and there was no apparent link with the March 22 suicide bombings at the international airport and on the metro in Brussels that killed 31 people.