Following the daring attack on Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris, Europe is literally on the edge. According to latest reports, dozens of terror suspects were arrested in Belgium, France and Germany, a day after Belgian authorities said that they halted a plot to attack police officers by just few hours.
In its crackdown on terror outfits, Belgian police had moved against a suspected terrorist hideout in the eastern town of Verviers. In the ensuing firefight, two terror suspects were killed, while a third was wounded and arrested.
Alarmed by the growing terror threat, the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel raised the national alert level to three from two on a four-point scale. “We are not aware of any specific or concrete threats, however, in the situation we can consider it is useful to raise the level of prudence and vigilance,” he told Reuters.
With half a million Muslims, mostly of French-speaking North African descent, among its 11 million people, Belgium has seen quite similar discontent to that in France among young, unemployed children of immigrants in blighted, post-industrial towns like Verviers, once a major center for wool and other textile mills.
Among all the other European nations, Belgium has taken a lead in EU efforts to counter the threat perceived from the return of “foreign fighters” from Syria. It is also part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State. Six Belgian F-16s have taken part in bombing Syria and Iraq.