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2 charged in Belgium with terrorism over Paris attacks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Belgian Special Forces congratulate each other after a raid, in search of suspected militants linked to the deadly attacks in Paris, in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, November 16. 2015. (Reuters photo)

Two people have been charged with terrorism in Belgium over the recent deadly attacks in the French capital of Paris.

Belgian prosecutor’s office said in a statement issued on Monday that the two were charged "with a terrorist act and participation in the activities of a terrorist group” while five others detained at the weekend were released without charge.

The statement did not give the names of the pair.

Mohamed Abdeslam, whose brother Brahim was involved in the attacks and whose other brother Salah is on the run, was among those freed.

According to Belgian authorities, a major police raid in the capital of Brussels to arrest Salah ended while no one was detained.

Earlier on Monday, sources said a Belgian national, who is currently a top operative of the Daesh Takfiri terror group in Syria, is suspected to be the mastermind of Paris attacks.

An unnamed source close to the French investigation said that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, “appears to be the brains behind several planned attacks in Europe,” adding that investigators believe he is most likely behind the killing of 132 people in Paris on Friday during a series of coordinated terror attacks that left 350 others wounded.

According to Belgian broadcaster RTL, Abaaoud has lived in Molenbeek suburb of Brussels, where other members of the militant terror group suspected of being behind the attacks come from.

An undated photograph of a man described as Abdelhamid Abaaoud (Reuters photo)

Media reports in the European country identified the 27-year-old of being involved in a series of planned attacks in Belgium that were thwarted by the police last January.

At that time, Abaaoud was located in Greece via tracking his cellphone and French prosecutors said fingerprints from one of the bombers in Paris attacks matched the prints of a man registered in Greece in October.

In February 2015, Daesh interviewed a militant named Abdelhamid Abaaoud who said he had traveled through Europe without being noticed by security forces to organize attacks and obtain weapons.

Belgium rejects 

Meanwhile, Brussels prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt said reports about Abaaoud being behind Paris attacks are unconfirmed rumors.

"Those are rumors, it's not confirmed at all and we won't comment on this," he said.

On Sunday, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the terrorist attacks in Paris had been planned from abroad with support from militants in Belgium.

Daesh new threat

In a statement on Saturday, the Daesh Takfiri terror group claimed responsibility for the bloody attacks in France.

People gather at the Place de la Republique square on November 16, 2015 in Paris before a minute of silence to pay tribute to victims of the deadly attacks claimed by Daesh terrorists on November 13 in Paris. (AFP photo)

The extremists in new footage posted on Monday said countries taking part in airstrikes against the group in Syria would see similar attacks like what happened in France, and threatened to attack Washington.

"I say to the European countries that we are coming, coming with booby traps and explosives, coming with explosive belts and (gun) silencers and you will be unable to stop us because today we are much stronger than before," said a man in the video dressed in fatigues and a turban, and identified in subtitles as Al Ghareeb the Algerian.

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