Belgium minister resigns as five are arrested in UK for suspected terrorism

© Twitter / Jaqueline Galant
Jaqueline Galant.

THE Belgian minister for transport has resigned after a report surfaced claiming she ignored lapses in security at Brussels airport before the twin bombings at Brussels airport on March 22.  Whilst in the UK five people have been arrested in Birmingham on terrorism charges as part of the ongoing investigation into the attack in Brussels, and also the previous attacks in Paris in 2015. 

Jaqueline Galant stepped down on Friday April 15 after a document was leaked to the Belgium opposition parties who then made it public. The report documented how security throughout Belgium airports was flawed. 

Charles Michel, Belgium Prime Minister had previously defended Ms Galant, and had told parliament that her office had not seen the critical EU report.

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However, now the PM confirmed the resignation saying “the minister presented her resignation to the King and the King accepted it.”

Galant claimed she had not seen the document, but Mr Michel said: “A summary of this report was discussed and sent to the minister’s cabinet in June 2015.”

This latest resignation follows the voluntary offer to step down by Belgium’s interior and justice ministers but both their resignations were rejected.

As Belgium still recoils from the horrors of March, the parliament has launched a fresh enquiry into the attacks in order “to draw lessons for the future.”

“The security of all Belgians is a priority for this government,” Mr Michel said. 

The quitting of the minister comes three weeks after the suicide attacks at Zaventem airport and a Brussels metro station by so-called Islamic State, which left 32 people dead and at least 270 injured. 

Zaventem Airport partially reopened earlier this month amid tightened security which included the installation of cameras to read number plates and random checks of vehicles.

Ms Galant wrote a letter to accompany her resignation, which included the line: “The orchestrated and theatrical confusion of the last 48 hours prevents me from continuing in the performance of my duties.”

The scene of 16 deaths, Zaventem Airport partially reopened earlier this month albeit with tightened security such as random checks at car parks, including added CCTV, walkthrough metal detectors, and added security for check-in luggage.  

The airport is expected to fully reopen at the end of June or early July.

Meanwhile back in England, three men were arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences. The three men, aged 26, 40 and 59, and a 29-year-old woman, were arrested in Birmingham on Thursday April 14 at night.  

Whilst a fourth man, 26, has been arrested at Gatwick Airport in the early hours of Friday 15. 

All of those arrested are said to be from Birmingham.

Officials from Whitehall have described the arrests as “significant.” It has been reported that police have worked with MI5, Belgium and French authorities in an operation to “to address any associated threat to the UK following the attacks in Europe.”

Officials have been quick to confirm that they don’t believe the public was at risk at any time concerning these arrests. 

As British Police search a number of Birmingham residences, it is understood that the arrested man is a 26-year-old who was detained after arriving in the UK at Gatwick airport. 

These arrests are the first in the UK which are connected with the Brussels and Paris attacks. 

Marcus Beale, Assistant Chief Constable, who leads the investigation on counter-terrorism for the force, said the operation was part of an “extensive investigation,” and the arrests were “pre-planned and intelligence-led.”


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