Police in Belgium made a series of overnight arrests, foiling a plot to free a convicted would-be suicide bomber:
Belgian police Friday arrested 14 Muslim extremists suspected of planning the jailbreak of an al-Qaida prisoner convicted of plotting a terrorist attack on U.S. air base personnel, officials said.
Extra police were deployed across the capital at airports, subway stations and other public places. The U.S. Embassy warned Americans of "a heightened risk of terrorist attack in Brussels," although it had no indication of any American targets.
Police arrested the 14 in all-night raids across the country and discovered arms and explosives apparently intended for the jailbreak.
The prisoner, Nizar Trabelsi, a 37-year-old Tunisian who played soccer for several German teams, was sentenced to the maximum 10 years in jail four years ago. He had admitted planning to drive a car bomb into the canteen at Kleine Brogel, a Belgian air base where about 100 American military personnel are stationed.
Trabelsi was sent to the high-security unit of Lantin jail, 60 miles east of Brussels, but there have been reports that he has been moved since then. Police have refused to confirm the reports.
The federal prosecutor’s office said the 14 were planning to free Trabelsi by force, and the government did not rule out the possibility that other attacks had been planned.
"If a group with an extremist view of Islam were ready to use arms and explosives to release Mr. Trabelsi, there is no guarantee that they would not use them for other ends," said Lieve Pellens, spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor’s office.
Note that the base Trabelsi wanted to hit also contains nuclear weapons under American control.
This isn’t the first jihadi plot in Europe, by any means. In addition to the attacks on the London subway and bus systems and Madrid train station, Islamic fascist plots in recent months were broken up in Denmark, Norway, and Germany. These won’t be the last, either: according to the German Interior Ministry, 180,000 German Muslims support violence in the name of Islam, while the head of MI-5 in Britain is tracking over 1,600 suspected terrorists and investigating over 30 possible plots. That they know of.
This isn’t a war that will often be fought in the usual ways, with large armies clashing across battlefields, but it’s a war nonetheless.
(hat tip: Blue Crab Boulevard)
UPDATE: Belgium let them go?