Belgium stabbing suspect was on extremist watchlist

Belgian authorities said on Friday that the lone assailant who killed one police officer and wounded another in a stabbing attack had been on a counterterrorism list of potential extremists.

The Belgian suspect had gone to a police station early on Thursday to express hatred for them, but couldn’t be arrested. That evening he launched his stabbing attack on two police officers.

“The man was on the OCAD list,” Federal Prosecution Magistrate Eric Van Der Sypt said, referring to the organisation that assesses the terrorism threats in Belgium.

The suspect was identified as Yassine M, born in Brussels in 1990. His common-law crimes put him behind bars between 2013 and 2019.

On Friday he faced charges of “murder and attempted murder within a terrorist context,” Van der Sypt said.

Brussels prosecutor spokeswoman Sarah Durant said the suspect had made “unhinged remarks” during a discussion with officers hours before the attack. 

Since he voluntarily asked for psychological help, he wasn’t arrested and was instead sent to a hospital, which he left soon after.

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