Police in major Belgian city monitor 557 potential Islamists, 189 ‘really dangerous’ – mayor
Bart De Wever revealed that about one person in 1,000 has been flagged as a potential terrorist threat. He gave the statistics during a Wednesday interview with the Een TV station. Not each of them is currently residing in Antwerp.
“There are 189 people who are really dangerous. Of these, 67 people are in Syria, 16 people have returned to Antwerp from there, and 20 wish to leave Syria for Belgium,” De Wever said as quoted by the Brussels Times. According to the official, there are 60 more people “whose movements we are closely monitoring.”
He added that a group of 350 people of the 557 “are bordering on involvement with the Salafi milieu,” a fundamentalist branch of Islam, to which Saudi Arabia adheres.
The mayor said that Salafism was already treated as a problem in Antwerp four years ago, when many Belgian officials dismissed such concerns.
He added that the monitoring of potentially radicalized people requires more resources at a local level. The job his administration does in Antwerp wouldn’t protect the city from an attack by an outsider, De Wever pointed out.
“I cannot stop anyone from coming by train from Molenbeek or by bus from Marseille and attacking the Jewish community,” he said.
Though he added that there is no reason for panic, since the authorities are closely monitoring the situation and potential dangers.
Molenbeek, which De Wever was referring to, was the home municipality of the person killed while allegedly attempting to blow up a nail bomb in Brussels earlier this week. In Marseille, France, two people were arrested in April while planning an imminent attack, French authorities said.