Brussels :A woman arrested in connection with a foiled plot in Paris is believed to have helped recruit jihadists in Belgium for the war in Syria, a Belgian television station reported on Friday.
The 19-year-old woman, Ines Madani, was shot and wounded in France on Thursday by police investigating a car found filled with gas cylinders near Notre Dame cathedral, a tourist hotspot, last weekend. Madani is considered the main suspect in the case.
“According to our information, Ines Madani had contacts with Belgian radicals from the Charleroi region,”the RTBF station reported, without naming its sources. Charleroi is a city south of Brussels, in Belgium’s former industrial heartland.
“The names of the radicals appeared on a list from (Belgium’s national crisis centre) OCAM as potential candidates departing for Syria,” the station said.
“Some of them have since been arrested,” it added.
“There is no question here (in Belgium) of a planned attack but Ines Madani seemed to fullfil a role of recruiter and facilitator for these departures,” it said.
If true, it would not be the first time jihadists in Belgium have been linked to those in France.
Several based in Belgium allegedly planned and took part in the November 13 gun and bombing attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead and wounded hundreds of others.
Jihadists linked to the Paris cell then allegedly carried out the March 22 suicide bombings in Brussels that killed 32 people at the main airport and a metro station near the EU headquarters.
Both sets of attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group headquartered in Syria.
A spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office told AFP today he would “not comment (on the report) in the interests of the investigation under way in France.”
Investigating a plot linked to the discovery Sunday of a Peugeot 607 with gas cylinders in central Paris, police arrested Madani along with her alleged accomplices aged 23 and 39 in a suburb south of the French capital yesterday.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the three women “were apparently preparing new, violent and, what is more, imminent actions.”
The women were “radicalised and fanaticised,” he said. Madani had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group in a letter found in her possession, according to a source in the investigation.