Fight against terrorism

Fight against terrorism: a holistic and coordinated approach

Belgium adopts and promotes a holistic approach in combating terrorism. Prevention, legal prosecution and rehabilitation are the major components in this respect. Such an approach presupposes a close cooperation and coordination between various actors and policy areas: Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis (OCAD/OCAM), Federal and Local Police, FPS Home Affairs, FPS Justice, public prosecutors’ offices, FPS Foreign Affairs, Financial Intelligence Processing Unit (CFI/CTIF), Ministry of Defence, intelligence services, FPS Finance, Regions and Communities, and Municipalities. They all are committed to common purposes: protect citizens and infrastructures against terrorist attacks; counter radicalisation and violent extremism; dismantle terrorist networks and combat their financing; prosecute, punish and reintegrate into society perpetrators of terrorist offences; provide support to victims of terrorist acts.

A successful approach of terrorism implies in-house coordination as well as thorough international cooperation. The  network of Belgian diplomatic and consular missions plays a key role in this respect, by providing relevant information about the ongoing global developments in (combating) terrorism and by monitoring the cooperation with international partners.

National policy

In order to prevent radicalisation and violent extremism, an ‘Actieplan Radicalisme’ (Plan R) was drawn up in 2005 and revised in 2015. Its summary is available online. Local task forces develop individualised pathways, in coordination with a national task force. The Brussels Region, the Flemish Community (summary in Dutch available here) and the French Community (summary in French available here) have drawn up their own action plans which are carried out in coordination with Plan R. Moreover, specific action plans were developed for addressing radicalisation in prisons and for combating violent extremism in the Brussels Canal District.

At national level, the fight against terrorism was recently further reinforced. In 2015, the Federal Government announced a number of counterterrorism measures. In 2017, 28 additional security measures were taken. Furthermore, in 2015 the National Security Council was established, a body responsible for ensuring coordination between competent services and for setting general priorities.

The overall approach of radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism has been described in the federal Framework Memorandum on Integral Security (Kadernota Integrale Veiligheid) and in the National Security Plan (Nationaal Veiligheidsplan) of the Belgian police services.

International cooperation

Belgium is actively involved in the international cooperation on the fight against terrorism, at both European level and global level. The FPS Foreign Affairs coordinates this international cooperation, ensures that Belgium abides by its international obligations and monitors, if requested, the reporting of the competent authorities to the international organisations.

Within the European Union, Belgium closely cooperates with other member states and EU-institutions. An important guideline is the counter-terrorism strategy approved by the EU Council in 2005. More information on this strategy is available here. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015 in Paris, the Heads of State and Government adopted a Declaration on the global EU approach to the fight against terrorism and radicalisation on 12 February 2015. The Declaration contains measures divided into three chapters: ensuring the safety of the citizens, preventing radicalisation and preserving values and cooperation with international partners. The last two years, substantial efforts regarding its implementation have been made.

Belgium did ratify the largest number of international treaties by the Council of Europe and made the approach of radicalisation and terrorism one of the priorities during its presidency from November 2014 to May 2015. An additional protocol to the Convention of the Council of Europe on the prevention of terrorism aimed at countering more effectively foreign terrorist fighters, has been approved. On May 19, 2015, the ministers of the 47 member states also adopted a political statement and a three-year action plan to combat violent extremism and radicalisation.

Belgium is a member of the Global Coalition (on) against Daesh, together with more than 70 countries from all continents. Belgium is an active member of all working groups (5). Our armed forces participate in military operations, Belgium is engaged in the working groups ‘Foreign Terrorist Fighters’ and ‘Counter Finance’, and contributes actively to the strategic communication of the Coalition. Finally, Belgium participates to the ‘Stabilisation’ working group, where it provides financial support with regard to humanitarian aid and stabilisation in Syria and Iraq.

Belgium attaches great importance to international cooperation in the fight against terrorism within the UN framework. It actively participates to the global counter-terrorism strategy and the implementation of the relevant resolutions. It has ratified most UN anti-terrorism conventions (UN anti-terrorisme conventions) and supports the activities and projects of the UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch and the Counter Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council, that seconds the UN member states in their national and regional counter-terrorism policy. The Action plan of the UN Secretary-General (UNSG Action plan) for the prevention of violent extremism presented and approved early 2016, demonstrates the worldwide recognition of the importance of prevention.