Jihad fighter previously worked at Doel nuclear plant

Summary

Ilyaas Boughalab, currently in Syria but on trial in his absence in Antwerp, worked in the part of the Doel nuclear power plant where sabotage occurred last summer

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A man from Antwerp who went to Syria to fight with Islamist rebels had access to technical areas of the nuclear power plant at Doel in East Flanders, according to an investigation by VTM News.

Ilyass Boughalab, 26, worked as a technician with the subcontractor Vincotte. The company carries out inspections of repairs at the plant and delivers safety certificates. Boughalab’s task, until he left the company in November of 2012, was to inspect the quality and safety of welding work, which gave him access to the most secure part of the installation.

That is where an incident took place last August that forced the closure of the plant until the end of the year. The incident is being investigated as possible sabotage.

Boughalab is part of the trial against Sharia4Belgium in Antwerp in his absence; he is still in Syria. He is one of more than 40 people charged with being a member of a terrorist organisation.

Electrabel, which owns the nuclear power plant, carries out security screenings of personnel allowed access to sensitive areas of nuclear plants, VTM reported. Boughalab was screened once during the three years he worked at Doel.

“If we had known the man had become radicalised, we would have reacted immediately,” said an Electrabel spokesperson. According to nuclear inspection agency Fanc, Boughalab would have been subject to checks each time he entered and left the technical zone, regardless of his clearance.

There is at present no evidence to link Boughalab to the incident in August, when he was not working at the plant or even in the country. However, the security services will now be looking more closely at possible connections he had during his time at Doel.

Photo: Ziyalisitx/Wikimedia Commons

Ilyaas Boughalab, currently in Syria but on trial in his absence in Antwerp, worked in the part of the Doel nuclear power plant where sabotage occurred last summer.

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