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Belgium Extends Detention of Saouti Brothers on Terrorism Charges | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Police officers of an anti-terrorism unit and of French intelligence agency patrol a street in Wattignies, northern France, after a man was arrested during a French-Belgian operation on July 5. (AFP)

Brussels – A Belgian court ordered the extension of the detention of two brothers for a month following their arrest last week on charges of plotting terrorist attacks.

Akim and Khalid Saouti, were charged in Brussels last with belonging to a “terrorist group”. They were believed to be planning an attack with a large stash of weapons including Kalashnikov rifles.

The suspects’ defense did not demand their release, but Khalid’s lawyer demanded that he be released on parole.

They were arrested in the Belgian city of Anderlecht.

Last year, Said, the pair’s older brother, was jailed for six years for recruiting people to extremist organizations and supporting ISIS on social media.

French and Belgian police had carried out coordinated raids on July 5 against a suspected terrorist cell. Belgian authorities said that the operations were aimed at thwarting preparations for terror attacks, but they did not disclose the nature or timing of those attacks.

Media in Brussels, said that search and investigation operations had kicked off three weeks ago based on US intelligence that had reached French authorities.

Belgian forces consequently raided the city of Liege after obtaining information on Akim and Khalid Saouti. French authorities meanwhile started to collect information on a French national identified as Salah Ghemit, who was eventually arrested.

The 42-year-old French suspect has previously been jailed four times for acts of violence and theft and was put under surveillance after leaving prison in May 2015 where he was believed to have been radicalized.

He was then observed making several trips to Belgium, where he met the Saouti brothers with all of them seen handling bags at a garage in Anderlecht.

Ghemit was charged with terror offenses on Sunday, a judicial source said.

He was charged with arms possession and having links to extremist groups, the source said.