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Friday, September 08, 2006

Police raid army barracks 'to foil Nazi terror plot'

BELGIAN police claimed yesterday to have foiled a neo-Nazi terrorist plot after arresting 11 soldiers and seizing a large quantity of weapons during raids on five army barracks.

The federal prosectutor’s office said that the group had planned to destabilise the country and had apparently infiltrated the military. It had also amassed a sophisticated range of arms and explosives.

Lieve Pellens, a spokeswoman for the office, said: “They were extreme right, with anti-Semitic and xenophobic ideals. They were recruiting in military circles with the aim possibly to move to action.”

All the arrests were made in the Dutch-speaking Flanders region, where there has been a steady rise in support for the far-right anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) Party. The suspects allegedly belonged to a breakaway faction of the far-right Flemish group Blood and Honour. Police also detained six civilians, who are expected to appear in court today.

Prosecutors said that a two-year inquiry into the splinter group Bloed-Bodem-Eer-Trouw (Blood, Soil, Honour, Loyalty) led them to a stockpile of weapons that included a large quantity of ammunition, pistols, rifles and landmine detonators.

Belgium has suffered from an increasing number of racist attacks, including the murder of a white toddler and her black babysitter in Antwerp, Flanders’ largest city. An 18-year old man with alleged links to far-right groups was charged with the killings in May.

Ms Pellens said that senior figures in the armed forces had helped investigators to infiltrate and dismantle the group.

A statement relased by the prosecutor’s office said that those arrested were mainly “soldiers and people with an extreme-right ideology who clearly express themselves through racism, xenophobia, Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism” and that the alleged ringleader was a serving military man “who intended to put terrorist ideas into practice”.

Le Soir newspaper identified the man as “B.T.”, a member of the Belgian Army’s 5th regiment. It reported that police also found a bomb and detonator strong enough to blow up a car, gas masks, uniforms, propaganda material and neo-Nazi symbols and literature.

Le Soir claimed that B.T. had built up the network over two and a half years, finding recruits who shared an extreme right-wing ideology, organising paramilitary training weekends and forging links with other outlawed groups such as de Nationale Alliante (the National Alliance) in the Netherlands.

Laurette Onkelinx, the Belgian Justice Minister, hailed the “exemplary collaboration” between the police, military and judiciary that had enabled the dismantlement of a neo- Nazi group within the army.

The Times

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