Molenbeek Brussels Islamist
Security forces involved in ongoing operations in the Molenbeek district of Brussels JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

Belgian police are conducting six raids in the Brussels area connected to dead Paris attacker Bilal Hadfi, according to a spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor. The search for suspects is taking place in the neighbourhoods of Laeken, Uccle, Jette and Molenbeek and it targets "the direct entourage of Hadfi, his family, his friends", AFP reported.

Hadfi, 20, died when he set off his explosives outside Stade de France near Paris, killing one person, as France was playing Germany in a football friendly attended by 80,000 supporters. The man, a French national, was living in Belgium but had spent time in Syria.

"It's a case which has already existed in 2015, following Mr Hadfi's departure for Syria," a source in the prosecutor's office said.

The Molenbeek district has a key link to last Friday's (13 November) attacks in Paris that left at least 129 people dead because it was the base for the massacres' mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud and the Abdeslam brothers: Salah, who is still at large, and Ibrahim, who died after blowing himself up at a cafe on Friday.

One person was detained in the early morning of 19 November in Laeken and is being interrogated, according to local reports

Molenbeek residents held a candlelight vigil for Paris on Wednesday 18 November in an attempt to counteract the suburb's negative media portrayal.

IBTimes UK travelled to the district, dubbed "Europe's jihadi central" earlier this week and visited the Abdeslam brothers' favourite hangout, a bar called Les Beguines.

Their bar was in the quiet Karreveld area of Molenbeek, a multi-ethnic neighbourhood of the Belgian capital, just two metro stops from the main train station linking Brussels to London and Paris. It was renowned in the area as a small drug-dealing hub and was shut down by authorities for that reason earlier in November.

"Let's say it was not famous for its beers," said a young Belgian man working at a shop nearby. "However, we never had a problem with them," added his 23-year-old colleague Anthony Beuel.

In the area many find hard to come to terms with the idea that the two pot-loving brothers could have participated in the killing of 129 people. "They were regular guys, who enjoyed a laugh," 25-year-old Nabil told Reuters. "There was nothing radical about them... They were here just last week hanging out."