Greek Police Detain Four Alleged Terrorists as European Dragnet Intensifies

Greek Police Detain Four Alleged Terrorists as European Dragnet Intensifies
Source: AP
Source: AP

Greek authorities detained four terrorism suspects in multiple raids on Sunday, including a man believed to be the ringleader of a Belgian jihadi cell, police officials told the Associated Press. 

The police operation signals an increase in anti-terrorism operations by European authorities in the aftermath of the attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, including the deployment of troops in Belgium and France and police operations designed to root out suspected terror cells.

A Greek police official told the AP that the four were arrested separately in Athens and included a man who matches the description of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a man who may be linked to the jihadi cell that was dismantled in Belgium on Thursday.

Two suspects were killed in a firefight and a third wounded in a vast anti-terrorism sweep in Belgian city of Vervier on Thursday. That operation netted several Islamic extremists who were "within hours of implementing a plan to kill police," federal magistrate Eric Van der Sypt told reporters on Thursday.

The Greek anti-terror sweep is just the latest leg of the European dragnet. Just one day later, French, German, Belgian and Irish police arrested more than two dozen suspects in anti-terrorism raids.

Thirteen more people were detained in Belgium, and two arrested in France, in connection with the Verviers firefight.

The Associated Press reports, "in Ireland, police arrested a suspected French-Algerian militant at Dublin Airport as he tried to enter the country using a false passport." 

"Belgian authorities were searching for more suspects Friday, and found four military-style weapons including Kalashnikov assault rifles in more than a dozen raids," according to the Associated Press.

Europol policy agency chief Rob Wainwright told the Associated Press that foiling terror attacks has become "extremely difficult" because Europe's 2,500-5,000 radicalized Muslim extremists "have little command structure and are increasingly sophisticated." A senior intelligence source told CNN on Saturday that "as many as 20 sleeper cells of between 120 and 180 people could be ready to strike in France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands."

Editor's Note: Feb. 12, 2015

An earlier version of this article cited and linked to the Associated Press, but did not include quotations around the phrases "in Ireland, police arrested a suspected French-Algerian militant at Dublin Airport as he tried to enter the country using a false passport" or "Belgian authorities were searching for more suspects Friday, and found four military-style weapons including Kalashnikov assault rifles in more than a dozen raids." The story has been updated to fully attribute the Associated Press' language.