At least 51 organizations in the Belgian capital Brussels have links to terrorism, according to a government report.
In an effort to clamp down on radical Islam, police conducted house-to-house searches of more than 8,600 residences and 22,668 inhabitants in the district of Molenbeek, which The Guardian referred to as “Europe’s Jihad Central.” A number of high-profile terrorists have been linked to Molenbeek, including the perpetrators of the Bataclan attack in Paris in 2015, in which 130 people were killed.
The raids were carried out over the past year under the Channel Program, which saw 100 new officers and €39 million given to the police to tackle terrorism. The raids led to 72 terrorism suspects being identified, 20 of whom are currently incarcerated in Belgium, 26 are “closely monitored” by authorities and 26 who are in Syria or Iraq.
Police reviewed 1,617 organizations in Molenbeek. Of these, 51 were found to have links to terrorism and radical Islam.
Mayor of Molenbeek Françoise Schepmans branded the program to “clean up” the district as “wicked and unjustified,” saying in an open letter to Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon, “We thought we had overcome such practices [as inspecting mosques] since the Second World War when people were singled out for their religion — a thing which led to one of the worst ignominies of history.”
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