Monday, November 23, 2015: Belgian capital, Brussels is still in complete lockdown as police search for top suspect of the Paris attacks, Salah Abdelsalam. In late night raids on Sunday and early morning Monday, the Belgian police raided 19 places in the capital and apprehended 16 people.
The chief prosecutor of the case, Eric van der Sypt said that the judge will review the detention of the 19 arrested. He said that there were no weapons or explosives found either at the premises or on the vehicles searched, while the prime suspect is thought to have escaped from one of the sites again.
“Abdeslam Salah was not found during the raids,” van der Sypt added.
Salah has been at large since the execution of the Paris attacks. He was stopped for questioning at the French-Belgian border but was released as he was not linked to the attacks at the time.
He and his elder brother, Ibrahim Abdelsalam were involved in the Parisian terrorist attacks. However, Ibrahim blew himself up at a café. Another brother of the Abdelsalams, who has not been found involved in the crimes, has said that Salah may have thought of getting through with this by killing himself. The perpetrator is considered armed and dangerous. Earlier last week, he urged his brother to turn himself in for the heinous crimes he has committed.
As the authorities, both Belgian and French, probe deeper into the matter, new evidence, witnesses and accomplices have been found. New evidence suggests that another Paris-like attack is expected in Belgium; particularly Brussels is the high target zone for the terrorists. The capital is still in complete lockdown for the third consecutive day and supermarkets, offices and schools are closed. The city is the headquarters of European Union and NATO.
“What we fear is an attack similar to the one in Paris, with several individuals who could possibly launch several attacks at the same time in multiple locations,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told a news conference on Sunday evening.
It was after the press conference of the Prime Minister that the raids were launched at the said 19 places in Brussels. Three places in the industrial area of Charleroi, 35 miles off Brussels were also searched. Police with armored vehicles and helicopters raided the places, but no major suspect or weapons were found. Police suspect that one of the vehicles they shot at in Charleroi, which was later found in Brussels, may have been used by Abdelsalam. However, no conclusive material has yet been found. Forensic teams are scanning the sites.
Three people have been charged in Belgium so far where, according to the French authorities, the Paris attacks were organized. Two of them have admitted they drove Abdelsalam back to Brussels but reject any links with the planning or execution of the attacks. Unconfirmed media reports have suggested that Abdelsalam was spotted at the Belgian-German border. However, nothing has been confirmed in this regard.
Meanwhile, a friend of the perpetrator says that Abdelsalam fears not to give himself up to the authorities in fear of ISIS who he believes will hurt his family.