#BrusselsAttacks: Nuclear breach fears as three more charged over terror offences

Brussels Nuclear Alert

A security guard who worked at a Belgian nuclear medical research facility was murdered two days after the Brussels bombings, it emerged yesterday (Saturday 26 March), deepening fears that Islamist terror cells are plotting attacks against nuclear installations. Didier Prospero, a guard with the G4S security company, was shot dead at his home in the Froidchapelle district of Brussels on less than 24 hours after Belgian authorities stripped several workers of their security passes at two nuclear plants this week.

The circumstances of 45-year-old Mr Prospero’s death remained murky last night, with conflicting reports over whether or not the murder was linked to terrorism, or if his work security pass had been stolen.

News of the killing emerged as Belgian prosecutors announced on Saturday they have charged three men with terror offenses over the suicide attacks, as organisers cancelled a solidarity rally at the government’s request because police are too stretched to cope.

Prosecutors said a man identified as Faycal C., who was arrested on Thursday, has been charged with “involvement in a terrorist group, terrorist murder and attempted terrorist murder.”

Belgian media say he is Faycal Cheffou, the man in the light vest and hat pictured on security video with two men who blew themselves up at the airport. Cheffou is described as a local activist known to police for trying to rally asylum-seekers and homeless people to radical Islam.

Prosecutors would not confirm the Belgian media reports. A police raid was conducted at his home but no arms or explosives were found, they said.

Two other suspects detained on Thursday and identified as Raba N. and Aboubakar A. were charged with “involvement in the activities of a terrorist group.”

In addition, a man named as Abderamane A. who was taken into custody on Friday after he was shot by police at a Brussels tram stop is being held for at least 24 more hours.

The arrests came after news emerged that Mr Prospero was found dead in his bathroom by his three children when they returned home from school on Thursday afternoon. He had received four gunshot wounds. His sheepdog Beauce was also killed and lay next to him.

Belgian prosecutors maintained last night that the murder was the result of a burglary gone wrong, but provided no detailed explanation as to why Mr Prospero, a respectable family man should suddenly have been murdered in a freak burglary.

The killing comes after a string of security scares and breaches around Belgium’s nuclear infrastructure and the discovery last November an Islamic State cell in Brussels had kept a top Belgian nuclear scientist under video surveillance.

The report of Mr Prospero’s murder heightened concerns that the Brussels bombers were plotting to build a radioactive “dirty” bomb — but apparently shelved the plan after security was stepped up at Belgium’s nuclear plants this month following intelligence warnings.

Belgian authorities have played down the risk posed by jihadists to its nuclear facilities in the past.

Last November 10 hours of surveillance footage of a top Belgian nuclear scientist was discovered in a house belonging to a known jihadi, but the existence of the footage was only acknowledged by Belgian authorities on February 18 after it was leaked to a Belgian paper.

The film is believed by security forces to have been taken by Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui, the brothers who the authorities say were suicide bombers at the Brussels airport and subway station. They are understood to have removed a hidden camera from bushes outside the official’s house.

After the news broke Jan Jambon, the Belgian interior minister, rejected a proposal to deploy troops saying that “nothing indicates a specific threat to nuclear power plants”, but two weeks later, on March 4, changed his mind and deployed 140 soldiers to guard five nuclear facilities.

Belgium prosecutors told the Sunday Telegraph that Mr Prospero was not employed at a nuclear plant, but worked guarding a nuclear medical research facility in Fleurus, near Charleroi, about 30 miles from his home in Froidchapelle.

This was contradicted by G4S who said that Mr Prospero was a general patrol officer who did not have access to nuclear facilities or guard nuclear sites.

The company added that Mr Prospero’s security pass had not gone missing in the attack, contradicting reports in Belgian local media that the security pass had been stolen.

“He was killed at gunpoint at his home. All indications are that it has nothing to do with his work, from what we understand,” a G4S spokesman said, “There is no missing pass. All his uniform and his papers are accounted for. G4S are co-operating with the police investigation.”

The is not the first time that fears of a terror threat to Belgium’s nuclear power plants have been raised.

In 2013, an engineer from Doel 4, one of the nuclear reactors of a power plant near Anvers, was sacked over concerns that he had been radicalised after he refused to shake his superior’s hand.

The employee was later identified as the brother-in-law of Azzedine Kbir Bounekoub, a jihadist involved with Sharia4Belgium, who left Belgium to join Isil in Syria in 2012 and had frequently called on Isil sympathisers to launch terror attacks in Belgium.

In another disturbing incident, a turbine at the same Doel 4 reactor was sabotaged in 2014 when someone deliberately turned security cameras the other way and then emptied 65,000 litres of oil used to lubricate the turbine.

The incident, which nearly caused the reactor to overheat, has never been elucidated and there have been no arrests. The federal prosecutor is “seriously considering” the theory that was linked to terrorism, according to the French newspaper Libération.


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Category: A Frontpage, Defence, EU, Radicalization, Terrorism

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