Fight against terrorism

 
A comprehensive and inclusive approach

Belgium supports and promotes a comprehensive and inclusive approach to fighting terrorism and attaches particular importance to the balance between prevention, repression, reintegration and rehabilitation aspects. Such an approach requires close cooperation and coordination between the various actors, policy areas and levels of power from the federal to the local level. This inclusive approach is coordinated by the Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis (CUTA) and involves numerous partners to deal with all facets of the problem, in particular the FPS Foreign Affairs, Interior, Justice, Finance and Defence as well as the intelligence services, the Financial Intelligence Processing Unit, the federal and local police, the public prosecutors' offices, the Regions and Communities, and the municipalities. These institutions are all committed to common purposes:

  • protecting citizens and infrastructures against terrorist attacks;
  • preventing and countering radicalisation and violent extremism;
  • dismantling terrorist networks and combatting their financing; 
  • prosecuting, punishing and reintegrating into society perpetrators of terrorist offences;
  • providing support to victims of terrorist acts.

A successful approach to 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 global developments in the fight against terrorism and the monitoring of the cooperation with international partners.

 
National policy

In order to prevent radicalisation and violent extremism, an ‘Action Plan Against Radicalism’ (Plan R) was drawn up in 2005 and revised in 2015. Its summary is available online. Within this framework, local task forces, which are consultation platforms between security services at judicial district level, carry out a personalised follow-up of relevant groups and individuals. The national taskforce is the strategic body ensuring the coordination of the Plan R with the services at federal level, as well as the federated entities. The Brussels Region, the Flemish Community and the French Community have drawn up their own action plans which are carried out in coordination with the Plan R. Moreover, specific action plans were developed to address radicalisation in prisons and to combat violent extremism in the Brussels Canal District.

Several years ago, the fight against terrorism was further reinforced at the national level. For example, in 2015, the Federal Government announced a number of counter-terrorism measures and set up the National Security Council , a body responsible for ensuring coordination between competent services and for setting general priorities. In 2017, 28 additional security measures were adopted and the system for combating terrorism and violent extremism continues to be gradually adapted in order to provide the best possible response to the challenges identified.

 
International cooperation

Belgium is actively involved in the international cooperation on the fight against terrorism, at European and international levels. Within the FPS Foreign Affairs, the Directorate-General for Multilateral Affairs and Globalisation:

  • coordinates Belgium's contribution to this international cooperation, including Belgian positions in this field and the related communication ;
  • ensures that Belgium abides by its international obligations ;
  • reports, if requested, to the competent authorities in international organisations.

 

Within the European Union

Belgium works closely with the other member states and the institutions of the European Union. An important guideline is the counter-terrorism strategy approved by the EU Council in 2005 and  updated since. 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. These fundamental texts are regularly operationalised in the form of Council Conclusions for external action in combating terrorism and preventing violent extremism, the latest version of which dates from June 2020. The European Commission also published its new Counter-Terrorism Agenda in December 2020.

 

Within the International Coalition to Defeat Daesh

Belgium is a member of the Global Coalition against Daesh, together with more than 80 countries from all continents. Belgium is an active member of the five working groups of the Coalition, including the working groups “Foreign Terrorist Fighters”, “Counter Finance” and “Communication”. Our armed forces participate in military operations. Belgium also contributes to the stabilisation activities of the Coalition through financial support for stabilisation in Syria and Iraq.

 

Within the United Nations (UN)

Belgium attaches great importance to international cooperation in the fight against terrorism within the UN framework and placed it high on its agenda as a non-permanent member of the Security Council (2019-2020). It actively participates in the biannual review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and in the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions. It has ratified most UN anti-terrorism conventions and supports various activities and projects such as: the UN Secretary General's Action Plan for the Prevention of Violent Extremism and the initiatives of the UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch, the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council and its Executive Directorate