Belgium will request the extradition of a man arrested in Greece who is suspected to be linked to a jihadist cell dismantled by Belgian security forces earlier this week, federal prosecutors said on Sunday.
The 33-year-old man of Algerian descent was arrested on an international warrant issued by the Belgium authorities. Initially, they had notified the Greek police that the man was not related to the investigation into a group of jihadists which was dismantled following a bloody operation in Belgium. However, they later considered that Belgium investigators dealing with the case should also question the Algerian national.
“Out of two suspects arrested, there is one who could be linked to the group,” the prosecutors’ spokesman Thierry Werts told Germany’s RTL television. “There are sufficient elements to seek his extradition,” he said.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 27-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent, has been reported to be the presumed mastermind of the terrorist group, which was dismantled in a counter-terror raid in eastern Belgium on Thursday. Two jihadist suspects were killed in the police operation.
Belgium’s VTM channel reported that Abaaoud had made calls from Greece to the brother of one of the two heavily armed suspects killed in the town of Verviers.
Belgium’s Minister of Justice Koen Geens said on Sunday that Abaaoud was not one of the two suspects detained in Athens and that he still remained at large.
The second terrorism suspect was released from custody without charges on Sunday, a Greek police source said.
The thwarted attacks in Belgium have prompted arrests in several European cities. Belgium has so far charged five people with “participating in the activities of a terrorist group” and has also requested the extradition of two suspects arrested in France.