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Belgian Court Sentences Leader in Terror Case

  • VOA News

FILE - 'Sharia4Belgium' spokesman Fouad Belkacem speaks during a press conference in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek in Brussels, on June 1, 2012.

FILE - 'Sharia4Belgium' spokesman Fouad Belkacem speaks during a press conference in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek in Brussels, on June 1, 2012.

A court in Belgium said Wednesday an Islamist group that sent fighters to Syria is a terrorist organization and sentenced its leader to prison.

The court in Antwerp handed down a 12-year sentence for Fouad Belkacem, the head of Sharia4Belgium, after a trial that began in October.

Prosecutors originally charged 45 people in connection with the case, but only a few appeared in court. The rest are believed to be in Syria, where as many as 400 Belgians have gone to join the fighting.

The trial was one of Belgium's largest terror trials.

Belgium has been on high alert since January 15, when authorities smashed a terror cell allegedly plotting attacks targeting police. Two suspected militants were killed in that operation.

The suspects in the incident in Vergiers, a Belgian town about 80 miles southwest of Brussels, were planning to kill police officers in public and in police stations, the prosecutors’ office said.

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