Police impede suspect linked to Belgian female suicide bomber in Iraq

Authorities detained at least one suspect Wednesday during dawn raids on houses of people connected to a Belgian female suicide bomber who struck in Iraq three weeks ago. Police raided houses in Brussels and northern Antwerp but had yet to make a formal arrest despite the detention, said Lieve Pellens, the spokeswoman of the federal prosecutors office.

She confirmed a Belgian-born woman had carried out an attack in Iraq. Other officials linked the woman, who was not identified, to a bomb strike against an American patrol in Iraq's capital on Nov. 9. But U.S. officials could not confirm the nationality of the attacker, who was the only one killed in the blast.

Pellens said authorities were searching the homes of several potential allies of the woman.

Media reports said the woman was born in Belgium and married a Muslim radical, with whom she drove into Iraq. The man's whereabouts were unknown.

"We are looking for partners in crime more than searching in her immediate family," said Pellens. Belgium has been mentioned as a breeding ground for terrorists in the past and there are currently 13 Belgian and Moroccan nationals on trial for allegedly being members of an Islamic group suspected in recent bomb attacks in Spain and Morocco.

None of the defendants is accused of actively taking part in any terrorist attacks in Belgium, but some face charges of providing terrorists with forged identity papers, shelter and other logistical support. They face five years in prison if convicted of belonging to a terrorist organization and 10 years if convicted of playing a coordinating role in aiding terrorists.

Prosecutors accuse them of being part of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, or GICM, which is suspected in the Casablanca bombings that killed 45 people in 2003 and last year's Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people, reports the AP. I.L.

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