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Officials Say Brussels Terror Cell Is Too Large To Wipe Out

REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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The terror cell behind the attacks in Paris and Brussels is much larger than previously thought, according to reports.

Authorities have gained increased intelligence from a string of arrests in wake of the attacks in Brussels last Tuesday. Arrests occurred in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany over the weekend.

“There is a large number [of members], all across Europe,” a senior U.S. official told The Wall Street Journal about the network that’s emerging from information as a result of the arrests.

Belgian police celebrated a large breakthrough in taking down the terror cell when suspect Salah Abdeslam was arrested March 18. Thirty previously unknown ISIS-trained fighters were identified just two days before the Brussels attack. As police continue to carry out raids, the list grows.

The network has its base in Brussels and members have used the city as a “safe haven” when police were looking for them.

“When they started cracking down in France and surrounding countries it was a case of people saying I have a cousin or brother in Brussels we can head there. Then you add to the problem,” the official told WSJ.

A security official told The Associated Press recently that Islamic State had at least 400 trained attackers in Europe. (RELATED: Associated Press: 400 ISIS-Trained Fighters Ready To Attack In Europe)

French President Francois Hollande said the network appears to be so widespread that a threat will remain, even if the inner circles are detained.

“We know that there are other networks,” Hollande said before a Friday meeting with former Israeli President Shimon Peres. “Even if the one behind the attacks in Paris and Brussels is in the process of being wiped out, a threat continues to remain.”

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