ATHENS, Greece — Belgian authorities said Saturday that information sent to them from Athens so far has not indicated the people detained by police in Greece were involved in a Belgian jihadi cell.
A Greek police official earlier said four terrorism suspects had been arrested separately in Athens and included a man who matched the description of the suspect Belgian authorities believe was behind a jihadi cell that was dismantled in Belgium on Thursday.
But after initial vetting in Brussels, federal magistrate Eric van der Sypt said the information they received showed there was no link.
The Greek official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the ongoing probe, said the “investigation is ongoing. We are in touch with the Belgians.”
The arrests came amid stepped-up police efforts across Europe to prevent terrorism, a groundswell of popular antagonism against radical Islam, and protests against caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad across the Muslim world that have underscored vast cultural differences.
Belgium has raised its terror warning to 3, the second-highest, following anti-terror raids there on Thursday which left two suspects dead and a third wounded amid fears they had been planning imminent attacks on police and their offices.
The country deployed 150 paratroopers Saturday to guard possible terrorism targets, including some buildings in Antwerp’s Jewish quarter. It was the first time in 30 years that authorities used troops to reinforce police, and they said the number of troops could double until a review of situation next week.
Meanwhile in France, authorities sought to head off possible civil unrest and glorification of terrorism after the country’s worst attacks in decades — assenting to quietly bury the two brothers involved in the attack against the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and banning an anti-Islamist demonstration in Paris.
“We are one country, one people, one France — without distinction by religion, belief or sensibility,” President Francois Hollande said in a speech Saturday in south-central France. “An ardent France against those who want to instill among us who-knows-what war of religion.”
Authorities have said there is no apparent link between the foiled plots in Belgium and last week’s terror attacks against the newspaper and a kosher grocery in Paris, in which brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi and their friend Amedy Coulibaly killed 17 people.