The FBI has been lobbying hard to get unfettered access to the messages passed by encrypted messaging services. But it apparently didn’t need that level of access to WhatsApp messages sent between members of an alleged Chechen jihadist group operating in Belgium. According to a report by Bloomberg, a pair of men were arrested and warrants were issued for three others for allegedly preparing for a terrorist attack in Belgium.
The arrests followed raids in which 16 people were detained, which Belgian law enforcement officials said was the result of “working with U.S. authorities to monitor suspects’ communications on WhatsApp Inc.’s messaging service,” Bloomberg’s Gaspard Sebag reported.
The BBC reports that the men tied to the al-Nusra Front in Syria and the Islamic Caucasus Emirate. One man detained had recently returned to Belgium wounded in combat in Syria while fighting with al-Nusra. There were two groups raided—one in Ostend on Belgium’s coast, and the other inland at Louvain. The Louvain group was said to be plotting a terrorist attack in Belgium. BBC also cited Belgian officials as saying WhatsApp messages intercepted by the US government were used to trace the group.
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