Five Are Arrested in Europe on Suspicion Links With Jihadis in Syria

Arrests grew out of joint investigation by police from Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey, CNN reports.


Five people, including a Dutch couple of Turkish origin, have been arrested in Europe on suspicion of engaging in terrorist activity, media reports say.

A senior Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN that a several-month joint investigation by police from Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey included surveillance of a suspected terror cell linked to jihadist groups in Syria.

"Their links to groups in Syria have been complex to untangle, but point towards" Islamic State, CNN quoted the official as saying.

The married couple was arrested by Belgian police at the beginning of August on suspicion of planning an attack on the European Commission offices in Brussels, media reports say. They were arrested at Brussels Airport after a trip to Turkey, the reports say.

The official who spoke with CNN said, however, he was unaware of any evidence that the couple was planning the attack on the EC offices.

CNN reported that the other three suspects were arrested in Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey.

The Dutch broadcaster NOS quoted Belgian investigators as saying the couple may be charged with belonging to a terrorist organization, violating weapons-possession laws and funding terrorism, reports say.

European authorities broadly are focusing on threats presented by people who have gone to fight in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts and then returned to their home countries in Europe. Reports say, for example, that some 400 Belgians have fought or are fighting in Iraq and Syria.