Moscow terror attack: ISKP is 'biggest jihadist threat' to Belgium

Moscow terror attack: ISKP is 'biggest jihadist threat' to Belgium
Federal Justice Minister Paul Van Tigchelt. Credit: Belga

The Islamic State Khorasan Province terrorist group (ISKP), which claimed the attack in Moscow on Friday night, is the most serious jihadist threat for Belgium, said Federal Justice Minister Paul Van Tigchelt (Open VLD).

The IS terror group in the Khorasan Province (the region around Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) has been considered a terror threat for some time. In January, State Security warned of the rise of ISKP figures in terror files in and around Belgium, De Standaard reports.

"In neighbouring countries there have already been arrests of alleged ISKP sympathisers," Van Tigchelt told VRT. "We are monitoring the situation because people from that region are staying with us too but we have not yet seen any concrete terror plans emanating from the organisation."

The Justice Minister said that in Belgium, ISKP itself is not so much trying to send out people to carry out attacks but is more aiming to inspire local sympathisers.

Commemorating the victims of the Moscow attack. Credit: Belga

Van Tigchelt also pointed out that IS' caliphate may have ceased to exist "but its ideology remains and is rapidly expanding. The biggest threat is from ISKP. We must use all means available to prevent the group from growing."

France has raised its terror threat level but Belgium does not currently plan to do likewise. "We have been operating on level 3 since October last year. Raising the level would mean there is an imminent, concrete threat, and there is none at the moment."

However the Security Services are not downplaying the threat and stressed that Belgium is "not immune", adding that "Over the past year, people with roots in the Central Asian region have appeared in several intelligence or judicial files."

The Federal Prosecutor's Office also stated that the ISKP is a "focus of attention" for them, but did not give details so as not to jeopardise ongoing investigations.

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