Powder Found in Brussels Mosque, Hikes Security


Brussles: The white powder that brought an emergency response at the Grand Mosque in Brussels on Thursday turned out to be flour, a representative of the Brussels Fire Brigade and Emergency Medical Services told.

A person in charge of mail at the mosque opened one envelope containing powder around 12:30 p.m. and, following safety procedures for anthrax, immediately contacted authorities, the official said. Four ambulances responded.

The Great Mosque of Brussels was evacuated and 11 people decontaminated on Thursday after the discovery of a suspicious package containing white powder as the EU capital remained on highest possible terror alert.

“A parcel was found at the entrance to the mosque and found to contain white powder. We are taking all preventative measures in case it is anthrax but it is a precautionary measure,” said fire services spokeswomen Anne Wibin, who was at the scene.

The mosque, the city’s biggest, is located just a few blocks from the major EU institutions and many embassies and was cordoned off by police and firemen, some of them in white hazard materials suits.

The alert came with Brussels on maximum security levels in the wake of the Paris attacks on November 13, with two Belgium-linked suspects still on the run.

Wibin said 11 people, including two police offers, were decontaminated as a precautionary measure. “A package was found with several envelopes one of which contained a powder, evidently suspect in the circumstances,” she said.

“The powder has been partially tested and it has been found to be not radioactive,” she said, adding that no possibility was being ruled out.

Earlier this week, several mosques in the Molenbeek neighborhood, seen as a hotbed of jihadist activity inspired by IS, received threatening letters from a group calling itself “Christian state”.