Police cordon off an area in Verviers, Belgium where officers engaged in a firefight with suspected terrorists. Jan. 15, 2015 (photo: Facebook) - Credit: Police cordon off an area in Verviers, Belgium where officers engaged in a firefight with suspected terrorists. Jan. 15, 2015 (photo: Facebook)
Friday, 16 January 2015 - 11:41
Belgian, Dutch Islamic extremists linked
The Belgian police shot two armed jihadists dead and arrested one in a Belgian city of Verviers late Thursday night. The armed men were part of a network which partly consists of returned rebel fighters from the Syrian Civil War. They were planning on attacking police stations and courthouses, according to Belgian police. "The Belgian and Dutch fighters know each other. This is a movement that holds absolutely no borders." says terrorism expert Edwin Bakker to ad.nl. Verviers is less than 40 kilometers from the Dutch border, and sits about a 240-kilometer drive from Rotterdam. Links between Dutch and Belgian suspected terrorists took root in 1997 after the formation of the Al-Aqsa International Foundation in Aachen, Germany. Sister organizations were formed in Verveiers and Heerlen, Limburg the same year, according to the Netherlands counterterrorism office NCTV. The three cities all lie close to the same main road and are within a one hour drive of each other. The organization's stated mission was, "Allah is its goal, The Prophet its model, the Qur'an its Charter, jihad its path, and death for the cause of Allah its most sublime belief.” The group allegedly financed Palestinian organization Hamas, officially deemed a terrorist organization throughout much of Europe until December 2013. There is a chance that these returned rebel fighters are a part of an operational cell which has been strengthening links on the battlefield between other rebel fighters from all over the world, suspects ad.nl. The Dutch and Belgian Muslim extremists have maintained relations even before yesterday. The Sharia4Belgium organization called for the introduction of the Islamic sharia law in Belgium followed shortly thereafter by a group of young Dutch muslims forming Sharia4Holland a few years ago. They make use of social media to share their ideologies and keep contact with each other as well, the newspaper says. Sharia4Belgium even threatened anti-Islamic PVV leader Geert Wilders in 2011 with "serious consequences if he does not show remorse." The ongoing conversation between the Belgian and Dutch jihadists can be followed on Twitter as they post assessments of developments in Europe.