UPDATE: Belgian authorities requested the extradition of a Algerian man who was among the detainees, Greek media reported Sunday evening. According to Euronews, Belgian authorities had said that there was no connection between the man and the mastermind of the foiled terror plot in Vervries, they later asked the Greeks for his extradition. The Algerian was arrested, the extradition procedure is expected to be concluded soon.
One of the detainees was released by the police.
UPDATE: Citing Belgian officials, international media report Sunday morning that the men detained in Athens had no link to the terror plot in Belgium.
Belgian federal magistrate Eric Van der Sypt told CBS News that “his office made the determination based on information shared by Greek police.” However the US-based network reports that the ringleader suspected to have ran the operation in Belgium from Greece was “an Algerian man”, and not a Belgian of Moroccan origin, as Belgian media reported.
“Earlier, a U.S. law enforcement source overseas confirmed to CBS News that among those arrested was a man authorities suspected of being the ringleader, an Algerian man who had traveled in Syria, the source said.
A U.S. official confirmed to CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton that the suspected ringleader returned from Syria and allegedly ran the operation from Greece to attack police and government officials in Belgium.” (CBS news)
Also Deutsche Welle cites Van der Sypt’s statement.
Saturday evening KTG reported:
Greek police detained four people in connection with investigation concerning the Belgium operation against jihadists in the city of Vervries two days ago. Citing reliable sources, online edition of private Skai TV, reports Saturday evening that “the detained people matched the description of a 27-year-old suspected to be the mastermind” of the planned terror attack of jihadists in Belgium. An attack that was foiled by the Belgian police last Thursday and ended with the killing of two suspects and the arrest of a third.
Skai.gr does not disclose further details on the identity of the detained, but just that “the detentions took place in the Prefecture of Attica.” Belgian media reported on Saturday that the mastermind behind Vervries was a 27-year-old Belgian of Moroccan origin, who was trained in Syria.
“The mobile phones of the detained have been seized, the lifting of communications privacy has been asked,” Skai.gr noted.
Private Alpha TV said in its prime time news a couple of minutes ago, that the four were detained in an apartment in Pagrati suburb of Athens and that “one of them matched very much to the description sent by the Belgian authorities”. The TV reporter hinted that the mastermind had apparently called the inmate in Belgium “from Athens but maybe also from Turkey.”
According to news website Zougla.gr, three of the detained “are Moroccans,” while “the fingerprints of the one matching to the Belgian description and other details will be sent to Belgian authorities for identification.”
News website Newsit.gr, reports that the detained were “four to five” and that “fingerprints and DNA material will be sent to Belgian authorities.”
Mega TV in its prime time news: “Belgian authorities sent a name and one mobile phone number to Greek police on Friday,” and implied that more detentions may follow.
Athens News Agency reported that four people from “the Arab world” were detained “in Pangrati and other suburbs of Athens,” and refers to the name of the terror plot in Belgium. The Belgian authorities informed Greek police “48 hours ago”.
KTG understands that as the investigation is ongoing, Greek police does not want to reveal all details. Therefore, there is some discrepancy to the information reported by the media.
Belgian newspaper La Libre, reported today, that
“A veteran coming from Syria, who has established himself in Greece since quite some time, has coordinated the terrorist cell that was about to commit an attack against police officers and police stations in Belgium.
The man reportedly maintained telephone contact with the brother – held in the prison of Lantin – of one of the two jihadists killed Thursday by police in Verviers, VTM reported Friday. According to the Flemish television channel, the police had been informed of suspicious telephone calls between an inmate of the Liège Lantin prison and a man returned from the fighting in Syria, now established in Greece.
The prisoner also maintained regular contact with his brother, one of the two jihadists killed Thursday during the anti-terrorist action in Verviers.
Listening to their telephone conversations allowed the police to discover that the attacks were being prepared on Belgian soil and identify the one who pulled the strings from the point of view of both operational and financial.
Belgian intelligence has asked Greek authorities to intervene but they have not done so so far.”
(original text in French here; English text via google translate)