Belgian police are on the hunt for a Palestinian asylum seeker who threatened to blow himself up after hearing that his entire family had been killed in Gaza.
All police units across Belgium are seeking 23-year-old Mohammed A., who said on Tuesday that he wants to ‘die as a martyr by explosion’ after hearing that his family had been killed.
He reportedly applied for asylum on September 26, and was told he had to turn up again the following day, but failed to do so.
A spokesperson for the Brussels public prosecutor’s office said that it was aware of the threats allegedly made by Mohammed A.: ‘The person of Palestinian origin is currently being actively traced. In the interest of the investigation, no further comment will be made.’
Little is known about Mohammed A., including where he currently is, when he arrived in Belgium and where in Gaza his family lived.
His threats were made just a week after two Swedish football fans were killed by an ISIS fanatic armed with an automatic rifle, in what the attacker said was revenge for the death of a six-year-old US-Palestinian boy.
All police units in Belgium are on the lookout for Mohammed A., who threatened to ‘martyr’ himself
Armed police shot Tunisian suspect Abdesalem Lassoued, 45, dead cornered inside a café in the Brussels neighbourhood of Schaerbeek last Tuesday.
He had been living in Belgium illegally before he opened fire on a group of Swedish football fans in a taxi passing through Boulevard d’Ypres just a few minutes north of the city’s famous Grand Plaza ahead of Belgium’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Sweden.
Several people fled into an apartment building after hearing the gunshots, but Lassoued followed them and opened fire again in the entrance hall in an attack he said was to avenge the killing of a six-year-old US-Palestinian boy.
Politico reported that Lassoued was known to authorities as someone with a ‘radicalised profile’ from as early as 2016.
While the 45-year-old had no prior convictions in Belgium, he was known to law enforcement for a range of ‘suspicious activities,’ including suspected human trafficking and threatening the security of the state, Belgium’s Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said last week.
The minister tried defending Belgium’s intelligence services at the time, saying: ‘The information was verified, nothing else could be done.’
Van Quickenborne argued that intelligence services were at the time swamped with ‘dozens of reports a day of that nature.’
‘Although he was known to law enforcement, there was no concrete indication of his radicalisation — that’s why he was not on the OCAD [terrorist] watchlist,’ the minister said.
More to follow.