Terror suspects face up to 15 years for plot to kill Antwerp mayor

Belgium's federal prosecutor on Wednesday demanded 15 years in prison for Elias E.A., 21, for leading a terrorist group that planned to assassinate the mayor of Antwerp.

His five accomplices face prison sentences of between five and 12 years. The suspects, who were arrested on 27 March 2023, also planned to attack a police station. 

The group had been under surveillance for several months after the Antwerp federal judicial police received information from State Security about Elias E.A.'s alarming activities.

According to the federal prosecutor, Elias E.A. spread Islamic State propaganda on social media. He had also recorded a training video in which he presented himself as an IS fighter who appeared ready for violence. 

Looking for weapons on Telegram

During the investigation, messages from closed chat groups were intercepted, which allegedly showed that Elias E.A. wanted to assassinate the mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever, and attack a police station. 

De Wever, mayor of Antwerp since 2013, has also been the leader of the Flemish nationalist party N-VA for two decades. He has been placed under police protection several times in the past due to threats.

The investigation into Elias E.A. revealed that he was looking for a Kalashnikov, small arms and explosives. "An undercover agent was placed in the Telegram chat group to monitor the delivery of weapons," the federal prosecutor said. 

Attack plan was well advanced

The police decided to intervene when such a delivery appeared imminent at the end of March 2023 and the plan for the attack was well advanced. "A price of 2,200 euros was agreed for the purchase of a Kalashnikov with two loads of fifty bullets," said the federal prosecutor.

Elias E.A. wanted the weapon delivered between 10 and 15 April. He had already received the address and photos of De Wever's house and planned to carry out the assassination a few days later, according to the federal prosecutor.


#FlandersNewsService | © Bart De Wever, mayor of Antwerp and leader of the N-VA party, during an election rally in Ghent in April © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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