No traditional New Year's Eve festivitities and fireworks in Brussels last time. Lots of coverage in Belgian media, but of course all in Dutch and/or French. However, FOX News had a good article in English:
BRUSSELS, Belgium — Traditional New Year's Eve fireworks in central Brussels have been canceled due to a continuing terror threat in the Belgian capital, officials said Sunday. The popular downtown Christmas market will close early, at 6 p.m., on Dec. 31 rather than staying open all night, and the adjacent skating rink will shut at 8 p.m. Authorities warned of an increased risk of attack after police last week detained 14 people suspected of plotting to help an accused Al Qaeda militant break out of jail.
The inmate, Nizar Trabelsi, 37, is a Tunisian ex-professional soccer player who is serving 10 years for plotting to drive a car bomb into the cafeteria of a Belgian air force base housing about 100 U.S. military personnel.
I got back from Poland only this evening, so I did not hear of all this firsthand, but my neigbour's wife just told me there was a terrible show of force by Police in Central Brussels, with streets cordoned off and huge police visibility. We have sadly all come to know the Brussels mayor, the infamous Freddy Thielemans, Parti Socialiste. If a scoundrel like him complied immediately with the recommendations of the Ministry of Interior's Crisis Centre, which got its information from OCAD, the Anti-Terror Cell, things must have been very serious indeed.
It is highly likely that the security measures were related to the arrest of 14 terror suspects, earlier in December, who allegedly planned to blow up bombs in the Brussels Subway system. Among he fourteen arrested was Malika El Aroud, the widow of the assassin of the Afghan warlord Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was murdered days prior to 9/11. Another was Trabelsi's girlfriend Naima. Tapped telephone conversations revealed that Naima had boasted that her daughter, who studies chemistry, was able to make explosives. When interrogated about these phone talks, Naima defended herself by saying "that she was only joking."
B.) THE NETHERLANDS.
On the last day of the year, an arrest took place in Rotterdam whereby three suspects were rounded up who reportedly planned a terror attack. Police got its information from the Dutch Anti-Terror Service, the AIVD, and reacted immediately. The three men, aged 31, 32 and 39 years, were two Moroccans with Dutch nationality and a Sudanese without fixed domicile. So far, so good. Happens all the time these past few years.
But then, immediately after New Year, details emerged. Dutch blog GeenStijl reports:
But now it appears that the three terror suspects rounded up days ago wanted to stage a HUGE BOMB ATTACK during the New Year's Eve. Target: Veronica New Years Eve on the Erasmus Bridge. Purpose: blow everything up during Kane's live concert [note by MFBB: they probably mean the popular band Keane]. Two Moroccans and oen Sudanese almost had theor own Ground Zero. They were arrested only hours prior to 00:00. Kudos for the arrest, but the whole affair leaves us with an unpleasant feeling...
The prestigious Dutch daily De Telegraaf confirms:
Only the past few days, the muslim extremists' internet communication revealed their intention: cause a bloodbath on the busy new year's party taking place on and around the Erasmus Bridge.
Immediate action [by security services and police] in all likelihood prevented a disaster of unknown proportions. The party was attended by more than 15,000 people perched onto each other, following the concerts, a mass of people which can hardly, if at all, be protected. Yet that very evening special measures had been announced. Visitors were not allowed on the bridge. Of the Moroccan suspects is known that they have Dutch nationality. The Sudanese had been on our country for auite some time illegally, but would not have been sent to Holland with the specific purpose of staging an attack...
And in a move very likely related to the arrests of the would be bombers, another roundup took place on January 4. An alert citizen was able to shoot the whole thing, probably with a cell camera. Geenstijl again:
A spectacular arrest this afternoon near Goirle in Brabant. There, a heavily armed arrest team plucked two suspects, involved with the foiled Rotterdam attack, from the national road A58. The whole thing was filmed by a prototype GS onlooker [sorry - Geenstijl writes 'prototype GS reaguurder' but even I sometimes have trouble with Dutch slang] who coincidentally had duty as a cameraman for Brabant Broadcast. The movie of the arrests can be found here.
Jesus. Christ. W-T-F is going on lately?