Armed military Conings still without a trace, thats how the manhunt stands

Although he is being sought with man and power, he has been without a trace for more than two weeks: the Belgian military officer Jรผrgen Conings is not easy to find. He picked up heavy weapons at a barracks two weeks ago, left farewell letters and targeted the famous Belgian virologist Marc van Ranst.

Today, Belgian media reported that he lived in the forest for years. That means he knows this area well. Whats the search for Conings now?

Conings may have lived in the combed area

On Monday 17 May, Conings left for work, as always. But in the evening he did not come home, which troubled his girlfriend. The next day the manhunt was started.

The militarys car was found shortly after his disappearance in a forest near the Lanklaarsesteenweg. According to the federal prosecutors office, a โ€œsuspicious construction around a tripflareโ€ was found, or a trap.

The search focused several times on National Park Hoge Kempen, near the border with the Netherlands. Belgian media report today that Conings lived for years in a chalet in Sparrendal, near the park.

Hundreds of cops and soldiers have searched for helicopters and armored vehicles, but the manhunt has not yet produced any Conings. โ€œIts taking a long time, I think we would all have hoped that we would have clarified this dossier more quickly,โ€ said the Minister of the Interior this weekend.

Authorities assume that Conings is still alive and that the threat surrounding the military has not yet disappeared.

Conings is potentially dangerous extremist

Conings has far-right ideas and is on the list of potentially dangerous extremists of the Belgian coordinating body for the OCAD threat analysis. The list contains 706 persons who may pose an extremist or terrorist threat to Belgium. Conings is the first military ever on the list.

These people are known to incite violence, intend to use violence in an extremist or terrorist context, or that there are serious indications that they want to radicalise others.

In a suicide note, Conings would have said that he โ€œcannot live with the lies of people who decide how to liveโ€. He was referring to politicians and virologists.

Potentially dangerous, but still retrieving a missile launcher

Although he was on the OCAD list, he was able to take heavy weapons from a barracks in Leopolds Bridge. โ€œUnacceptable,โ€ Prime Minister Alexander De Croo called that mistake. It may be four rocket launchers, an FN P90 submachine gun and a smaller gun.

ADIV Military Intelligence knew Conings was on the list, but that information never reached the chief of the ADIV or Minister Dedonder (Defense). The information from the OCAD database was โ€œexploited poorlyโ€, says Dedonder.

Investigation of the state of affairs is still ongoing. In the meantime, twelve other soldiers with far-right ideas have been denied access to weapons depots.

Virologist Van Ranst was targeted

โ€œ You get tired of the threats, but unfortunately you get used to them,โ€ said Van Ranst to DeccEit. Conings drove to the virologists house after he loaded his car with guns. He hung out there for a couple of hours. Van Ranst has been hiding with his family in a safe house for two weeks now.

In addition to Van Ranst, ten other persons are a possible target of the military, reported by Belgian media earlier. They would get extra protection.

Multiple mosques in the area of the search area remain closed, or are additionally monitored. Its not clear whether Conings is targeting places of worship specifically.

Conings gets accolaim: from whom and why?

Conings is receiving support from different angles. A facebook group that was founded as support to the military had 40,000 members within a few days and dozens of people came to events. Van Ranst himself took a look at one of the Telegram groups.

The people who support Conings have various motives, says Belgian journalist Bruno Struys van De Morgen in Podcast De Dag. โ€œBut in general, their message is that Conings is a hero because he resists the coronameasures.โ€

According to Struys, the situation around Conings makes it clear that in Flanders there is a โ€œmuch greater willingnessโ€ to revolt against the measures than is often thought.

How politics should address this group of people is still a big question. According to Struys, on the one hand, you have politicians saying that they should listen more to these people, so that they feel heard. โ€œAnd on the other hand, some say that you should not listen, and clearly show your disapproval.โ€

โ€œ Those two tendencies are irreconcilable. No one knows what to do with thisdo.โ€