No house search or armed incident took place in Vilvorde on Thursday as part of the anti-terrorist operation taking place all over the country that day. This was confirmed by the mayor Hans Bonte (Antwerp Socialist Party) via VRT. The police station is nevertheless being closely watched. Vigilance has been high in the commune over the last 18 months due to a problem with radicalization. Around 28 people from Vilvorde have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq, out of a population of 42,000. Currently, 8 fighters home from the Far East are known to the communal authorities. To keep a person under surveillance full time, you need 24 people working full time, the mayor explained.
In total, 101 fighters security services know went to Syria or Iraq have returned to Belgium, said Mr Bonte. “I still see towns and communes not deleting people who have gone from their civil registers”, he says. “This means you don’t know if someone has gone”.
Surveying those who have returned requires a lot of work, says the mayor. “The amount of labour and intensity it needs means that extra help must be given to local authorities, social services and local police”.