Brussels on lockdown in search for ISIS suspect
Brussels, the capital of Belgium, has been in lockdown for three full days now while the authorites search for Salah Abdeslam, who is wanted in connection to the Paris terrorist attacks. Belgian officials have put the city’s terrorism alert to the highest level which indicates a “serious and immediate threat.” Schools have been closed, and officials have ordered Brussels residents to stay sheltered indoors and to avoid public spaces. Around 1,000 police officers and soldiers have been utilized during the lockdown, carrying out numerous raids and occupying many public places in order to ensure safety.
The city was put on lockdown Nov. 21 “based on quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said. “Where several individuals with arms and explosives launch actions, perhaps even in several places at the same time.”
Salah Abdeslam entered Belgium on Nov. 15, the morning after the terrorist attacks in Paris, but his whereabouts are unknown as of yet. However, raids have been performed all over the city, searching not just for Abdeslam, but for a network of local Islamist militants additionally linked to the terrorist attacks in Paris. Several ISIS members and people found in connection to the Paris terrorist attacks have been traced back to Belgium. The country of only 11 million has the highest number per capita of militants fighting in Syria and Iraq, according to experts.
The subway system was the first city service to be closed when the alert was raised, and over the several days of lockdown businesses have remained closed. Over 20 people have been detained throughout the lockdown, and as it stretches on into its fourth day authorities have eased but not withdrawn their operations.