Belgian man charged with terrorism offence

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A young Belgian man has been charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group, after his arrest on suspicion of having contacts with extremists, judicial sources said Monday.

Belgian federal prosecutors said the suspect, identified as Jimmy K, was formally charged on Sunday following reports of his arrest south of the capital Brussels on Saturday.

“He was charged by the investigating judge with participation in the activities of a terrorist group,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

It said searches were carried out in Wavre, Comines and Ottignies, all in the southern French-speaking parts of Belgium.

It said no weapons or explosives were found following the 22-year-old’s arrest, which local media said took place in Wavre, 30 km (18 miles) southeast of the capital Brussels.

But the Belgian broadcaster RTL said police had seized a computer and telephones.

A source close to the investigation, contacted by AFP, could not confirm a report in the Derniere Heure newspaper that the suspect was about to carry out an attack.

“We have no idea if he had attack plans, but elements of the probe indicate he had been radicalized and had contacts with radicalized people,” the source said.

The source added that the suspect lived in Comines, across the border from the French city of Lille.

The Derniere Heure, quoting the man’s grandmother, said the suspect had converted to Islam after his mother was killed by her partner three years ago.

His grandmother added that he spent time with the Muslim community in Wavre when he visited her home there.

“One day he converted but only to pray,” she was quoted as saying.

Several attacks have been carried out in recent years in Belgium, which saw hundreds of its citizens head to Syria and Iraq to fight on the side of extremist groups.

The deadliest occurred on March 22, 2016 when suicide bombers killed 32 people and wounded hundreds more at a Brussels metro station and the international airport.

ISIS extremist group claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks, which investigators believe were carried out by the same cell that killed 130 people in Paris on November 13, 2015.

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