November 2015 – FRANCE – French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday warned that France could face chemical or biological terror attacks, as Belgian security forces launched six raids in Brussels in connection with last week’s deadly assaults in Paris. Valls was speaking in parliament to urge a three-month extension to the state of emergency in France, after 129 people were killed Friday in a series of attacks by the Islamic State. He did not say there was a specific threat of such an attack. “We must not rule anything out. I say it with all the precautions needed. But we know and bear in mind that there is also a risk of chemical or bacteriological weapons,” Valls said. “The macabre imagination of the masterminds is limitless.”
An official in the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office told the Associated Press that the Brussels raids were taking place in areas including the Molenbeek neighborhood, which several of the suspects have links to. The official, who spoke anonymously because the investigation is ongoing, said the raids centered on the entourage of Bilal Hadfi, who has been named as one of the suicide bombers at the Stade de France, or national stadium.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced $427 million of anti-terror measures Thursday following the attacks. He said the money will go towards increasing the numbers of security officials, and eradicating hate messages. He also wants to amend the constitution to extend the length of time terror suspects can be held by police without charge. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Thursday called on the international community to do more to eradicate the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. He told France-Inter radio that ISIL “is a monster. But if all the countries in the world aren’t capable of fighting against 30,000 (ISIL members), it’s incomprehensible.”
Speaking at the European Parliament on Thursday, Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, said the attacks were “a clear statement of intent by ISIS to export its brutal brand of terrorism to Europe.” On Wednesday, police raided the Paris suburb of Saint Denis in an operation that targeted Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, the suspected mastermind of the attacks. Two suspects were killed, including a female suicide bomber who blew herself up as police closed in, and several people were arrested. Authorities said an imminent attack was thwarted. –USA Today