European police operation against an ultra-right group suspected of preparing attacks

A joint anti-terrorist operation targeting ultra-far-right circles was carried out on Thursday November 9 in six European countries (Belgium, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Romania) with the support of Europol and Eurojust. According to information released on Friday, five suspects were arrested and seven others questioned during operations which led to the seizure of weapons, Nazi material and computer data. The militants are said to have harbored terrorist plans.

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They were members of a group called “The Base”, an allusion to their apparent desire to create networks similar to those of Al-Qaeda, which means “The Base” in Arabic. According to Europol and the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office, several encrypted online platforms actively called for terrorist acts and shared instructions for using 3D-printed firearms. Members of the group also wrote a manifesto. “Despite the young age of some of the suspects, there were indications that some of them were at high risk of future action”said the Europol press release.

According to the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office, the case was opened in May by the anti-terrorism division of the Antwerp judicial police. Information was transmitted in July to the European Office for Judicial Cooperation and two coordination meetings were organized with a view to simultaneous action by the different national police forces. An operational command had been established at Europol headquarters in The Hague.

Nazi flags and swastikas

During searches carried out in Belgium, in Ostend, in West Flanders, and in Diepenbeek, in the province of Limburg, two people aged 23 and 21 were apprehended. Nazi flags and swastikas were found in one of them, as well as materials that could be used to make, among other things, homemade bombs and Molotov cocktails. One of the suspects, previously identified for having distributed photos of Nazi soldiers and for his sympathies with a Flemish nationalist militia, “as a leader”, broadcast a terrorist message and attempted to recruit with a view to committing an attack, according to the federal prosecutor’s office. He was indicted. In Croatia, the police leadership announced that two arrested suspects were minors.

In a report on jihadist and right-wing extremist threats published in 2022, Europol highlighted that political instability in several European countries, the question of social inequalities and that of the war in Ukraine, as well as the theme of migration, risked accentuate a far-right terrorist threat. Added to this is now the war between Israel and Hamas, according to a specialist from the European police office, with radicalized individuals joining the camps which clash violently on social networks.

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