Multiple countries took place in police raids on terrorist cell groups in Europe on Thursday, which has resulted in a net of dozens of arrests. Some of those who have been arrested in the raids are part of the 2,500 to 5,000 radicalized Muslims who are known to be in Europe.
The raids come after the terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in France. As a result of the attacks, the presence and possibilities of terrorist groups in Europe have frightened Europeans into action.
The raids took place in countries that included France, Germany, Belgium, and Ireland, and were made in an effort to prevent future attacks. Once the raids were completed, there were at least 30 suspects in jail. Police are not certain if everyone in the cells has been arrested or not.
One group in Verviers, Belgium, had weapons, explosives, grenades, communications equipment, and several police uniforms. It is believed that the terrorists were going to perform a terrorist attack within a couple of hours on police stations and on public roads while wearing police uniforms. The authorities were tipped off from phone calls that were suspicious.
There were 13 who were arrested in the raid and two terrorists were killed. Several people in this cell had returned from fighting in Syria. Along with the weapons, there were materials used to make powerful explosives, including TATP, but they had not made any yet.
Before the raid, the terrorist cell groups were being monitored by intelligence agencies in the United States, which resulted in the net arrest of dozens in Europe. They were watching the plot develop and knew when they were ready. It is also likely that other attacks are in the planning stages.
Two men from this cell were traveling from France into Italy. They were arrested at the border when they tried to cross at the Frejus Tunnel.
Part of the problem of stopping future attacks from occurring is that the various terrorist cell groups seem to be unorganized. Some of them are not connected to other groups. It is believed that there are about 20 known sleeper cells in Europe and that they have around 150 people in them.
As many as 12 arrests have been made in connection with the Charlie Hebdo attacks made last week. They are suspected of providing support of some kind to the terrorists.
In Belgium, a verdict was to be given against a group of 40 people who belonged to a now outlawed group, the Sharia4Belgium. It has been delayed for one month because Belgium has the highest number of people who had fought with rebels in Syria.
In response to the Hebdo attack, Belgium is working on some new legislation to try and curb efforts of citizens who want to work with terrorist groups. Some of them include making it a crime to travel abroad to fight in a terrorist group, adopting of measures to fight radicalization in the prison system, developing of better information exchange systems, and obtaining military support for some police operations. The penalties are also going to be increased, which may include revoking of citizenship, withdrawing of passports and identity cards, and more.
Part of the reason why Belgium has so many who have been to Syria or Iraq is because of so many people being jobless. In one community, Molenbeek, people who are between the ages of 18 to 25 suffer from a jobless rate of 50 percent.
Raids on known terrorist cell groups in Europe have already allowed police to net dozens of suspects. More raids can be expected as police continue to search for others who may have eluded them so far.
By Mike Valles