Belgian soldier suspected of terrorism found dead

After a weeks-long search, the heavily armed Belgian soldier Jürgen Conings has been found dead in a forest in Hoge Kempen National Park. The suspected right-wing extremist disappeared on May 17 after voicing death threats against the virologist Marc Van Ranst. The authorities had feared Conings was planning an attack on state buildings or public figures. The press doesn't believe he was a lone wolf.

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De Standaard (BE) /

Extremism must not be downplayed

De Standaard finds it unacceptable that the threat posed by Conings is being trivialised, especially by right-wing parties:

“There must now be a resolute investigation into how to prevent a repeat of this scenario: the fact that a soldier who is high on the list of terrorism suspects due to his extremist beliefs and his willingness to act on them can nevertheless gain access to a cache of weapons. What does not fit in with this dramatic ending is the way the facts are being downplayed and Coning's intentions are being relativised. ... It would be good for democracy if every party that claims to be 'democratic' were to unequivocally condemn every form of violent extremism, no matter where it comes from.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Not just the army is the problem

Jürgen Conings was able to count on a disturbingly broad base of support, Le Soir comments:

“It is not only the army that is affected by the rise of right-wing extremism. We've seen how much support the soldier received among the population, and we see every day the excesses of this ideology in word and deed, with social networks functioning as a breeding ground. What is feeding the hatred, the rejection of democracy, this conviction that politics no longer lives up to the people's expectations and that for that reason it's necessary to name scapegoats and even take action? This fundamental political, ideological and social introspection is urgently needed. Unfortunately, Jürgen Conings is just a warning and not the epilogue to this dark chapter.”