Foiled terror attack in Brussels: Concert hall to maintain security standards

Foiled terror attack in Brussels: Concert hall to maintain security standards
The Botanique concert hall. Credit: Belga/ Noe Zimmer

The Botanique concert hall in Brussels has confirmed it was the target of the foiled attack for which three minors and one adult were detained last weekend.

The current security measures in place at the venue can guarantee, however, that events go ahead as planned. Three minors and one adult were detained on Sunday morning as part of a federal investigation targeting those suspected of connections to violent Islamic extremism.

On Monday, it was confirmed that the four people, aged between 15 and 18, were arrested for discussing plans to commit a terror attack on a concert venue in Brussels. They reportedly had set a concrete date for their plans, scheduled within a few weeks.

That same day, it emerged the imminent attack was targeting the Botanique venue near the Brussels North Station. The concert hall's team confirmed on Monday evening that, as soon as this information was shared with them, they all went to work "to follow this up as best they could."

In a statement seen by Belga News Agency, the team noted it was in contact with the security services throughout the weekend. After consultation with the services, it was deemed that the current security measures, which have been in place since the 2015 Paris terror attacks and the 2016 terror attacks in Belgium, are adequate.

After these attacks, the venue already reinforced its security team and additional measures were put in place at the entrance and across the site, such as checking bags. "These measures are evaluated on an ongoing basis," the venue noted, adding that "planned events and concerts can continue according to the current security standards".

"Every effort will be made to optimally guarantee the safety of the public, the artists and the staff," it said.

What do we know so far?

The four suspects arrested during the weekend – three minors from Ninove, Brussels and Charleroi, and one adult from Liège – had come into contact with each other online, where they allegedly forged plans to commit an attack. Their conversations referred to the terrorist group Islamic State (IS).

While no weapons or explosives were found during searches Sunday morning, the four were said to have searched for weapons on the dark web.

Earlier in the day, an adult suspect was placed under arrest by the investigating judge in Brussels and placed under suspicion of participating in the activities of a terrorist group and preparatory acts with a view to committing a terrorist attack. He was charged on Monday. The three minors were placed at the disposal of a Dendermonde investigating judge.

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The other major Brussels concert halls remain vigilant, but are also not taking any additional security measures, given this has not been called for by Belgium's Threat Assessment Body (OCAD). Just last week, it reported that it received 41% more terror threats in 2023.

It pointed to the escalating Israeli bombing of Gaza following the Hamas attacks on 7 October 2023 as well as the 16 October attack in Brussels, in which two Swedish football fans were shot dead on Boulevard d'Ypres near Place Sainctelette, stating these had a sizeable impact on the number of threats it received.

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