European Union leaders will hold an emergency summit in Brussels on Friday to coordinate the 15-member group's anti-terrorist policies, in the wake of last week's attacks on New York and Washington. Announcement of the meeting comes as police officials and magistrates from Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands were gathered behind closed doors in the Belgian capital to discuss the terrorist threat to their countries.
The one-day summit of EU leaders follows a meeting of the group's foreign ministers last week in which they pledged their support for the United States. A similar gathering of EU transport ministers ordered a beefing-up of airport security throughout the Union.
Belgium, which called the summit at Germany's suggestion, is asking all of its EU partners to undertake what Foreign Minister Louis Michel describes as a "total mobilization against terrorism."
His call comes as top law enforcement and judicial authorities from Belgium and three of its neighbors were meeting to discuss possible links between suspected Islamic radicals detained in recent days, and Osama Bin Laden, the man Washington has described as the prime suspect in last week's terror attacks against the United States.
A spokesman for Belgium's Justice Ministry would not discuss any details of the investigators' meeting, saying it is confidential.
But the gathering of Belgian, French, German and Dutch officials is believed to center on two men of North African origin, who were arrested in Brussels last Thursday. Belgian police will only say that they belong to a radical Islamic group. One of the men has been charged with attempting to destroy buildings with explosives. The other has been charged with criminal association.
Two French magistrates are in Brussels to interrogate the two men. French media reports say at least one of them was involved in planning an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Paris. But the Brussels prosecutor's office would neither confirm nor deny those reports. It said one of the men was arrested on suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities but stressed that those activities were not linked to the attacks in the United States.
German officials at the meeting were expected to brief their colleagues on an investigation in Hamburg and the western town of Bochum aimed at tracing the movements of individuals suspected of being involved in the attacks against the United States. German authorities say three of the 19 men identified by American officials as being suspects in the hijacking of four U.S. airliners last Tuesday lived in Hamburg, and that one of the three frequently visited Bochum.