In a significant development, a suspect has been taken into custody in Morocco in relation to a series of bomb threat alerts that resulted in the temporary closure of nearly thirty schools in Belgium. The Brussels prosecutor's office confirmed the arrest, noting that the individual, a Moroccan national, admitted his involvement in the threats during questioning by Moroccan authorities.
The Motive Behind the Threats
The initial investigation suggests that the suspect's motives were not grounded in terrorism. Instead, it appears that the offender demanded a ransom via email on Sunday, threatening to detonate bombs if his demands were not met. This led to the precautionary closure of schools in Belgium, affecting around 10,000 students.
Consequences of the Bomb Threats
Following the threats, thorough checks were carried out in the schools, with no explosives found. Consequently, classes resumed on Tuesday. The Brussels prosecutor's office stressed the severity of such incidents, underscoring that false bomb threats are considered serious crimes under the Penal Code, punishable by up to two years in prison.
A Growing Trend of False Bomb Threats
In a concerning pattern, false bomb threats have been on the rise in Belgium and neighboring France. France has reported approximately 800 false bomb threats in schools between September and mid-November, a trend that has seen an increase following a jihadist attack in Arras, northern France, on October 13.