Belgium continued to strengthen its response to the threat of terrorism, fashioning new institutions in its security services, improving internal coordination among antiterrorism offices, promulgating new laws to deal with terrorism and money laundering more aggressively, and strengthening agencies that confront terrorist financing.
In 2006, under Belgium's 2003 antiterrorism law, members of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), a far left militant Turkish group, were convicted for membership in a terror organization and for providing material support to a terrorist group. The Belgian Court of Appeals upheld the DHKP/C convictions and imposed stiffer sentences in November 2006. In April 2007, Belgium's Supreme Court cited technical grounds in quashing the Court of Appeals ruling; at year’s end the case was being retried in the Antwerp Appellate Court.
On October 15, hearings began in the case of Bilal Soughir and five other men suspected of recruiting and training terrorists for suicide attacks in Iraq, including Muriel Degauque, a Belgian national who, in 2005, blew herself up in a failed bomb attack in Iraq. Federal authorities planned ongoing reviews of court rulings to gauge what acts and groups could be prosecuted successfully under the 2003 legislation and what types of sentences could be imposed.
Recently-enacted legislation that loosened restrictions on police surveillance of alleged extremists and clarified procedures for authorizing searches, wiretaps, and use of informants also facilitated action against suspected terrorists. Belgian authorities continued to strengthen their internal capabilities to combat terrorism and made its Coordinating Body for Threat Analysis (OCAM/CODA) more fully operational.1 OCAM aims to facilitate the exchange of information among all governmental counterterrorism bodies and make a common threat analysis on the basis of such information exchanges. The new agency operated under the joint authority of the Justice and Interior Ministers and included representatives from the external and internal services, the Federal Police, Customs, and the Ministries of Transport, Finance, and Foreign Affairs.
Belgium also granted authorities the ability to create a national list of terrorist entities, separate from UN and EU lists, to be coordinated by OCAM, and to include financiers and suspected financiers of terrorism. This information will allow Belgian authorities to develop and apply a national capacity to freeze assets (in addition to UN- and EU-mandated asset freezes that Belgium already implements). In addition, Belgian cooperation on security programs such as the Container Security Initiative (CSI), Megaports, and export controls has been generally excellent.
Belgian emergency action plans have been reviewed and updated to prepare for and respond to potential attacks, including bioterrorism. On a local level, authorities have instituted drills of rapid alert systems, and reviewed critical infrastructure support and civil protection and medical assistance procedures. Federal and local authorities have participated in a EUCOM WMD Consequence Management exercise, furthering U.S.-Belgian cooperation in this area. Police and private sector working groups have been formed to target terrorists, the financing of terrorism, and terrorist use of the Internet.
Belgium made a significant military contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, where it maintains a ground presence of about 400 troops, mainly at Kabul airport, with some personnel at the Provisional Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Konduz. Belgium contributed approximately $33 million euros toward Afghan reconstruction and promised to boost its support for reconstruction and development, totaling approximately 45 million euros, to be disbursed over the next four years. Assistance to Iraq included expanded participation in the Jordan International Police Training Center in Amman (which subsequently closed in September), training for Iraqi diplomats and magistrates in Belgium, and training for Iraqi servicemen in Abu Dhabi, in cooperation with Germany.
Belgian authorities remained concerned about potential terror activities involving groups from Algeria and North Africa, and have investigated groups such as the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM), the DHKP/C, a far right group with links to neo-Nazi groups, and a cell suspected of training members for attacks in Iraq. The KGK/PKK is a known presence, with television production studios in Brussels. The KGK/PKK continued to exploit Belgium to raise illicit financing for violence in Turkey and its camps in northern Iraq.
Belgium continued to take action in response to EU and UN Security Council actions to freeze suspected terrorist assets and to study steps to improve its ability to combat and control terrorist financing. Based upon a mutual evaluation review by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in June 2005, Belgium was working to implement FATF's recommendations.
http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2007/103707.htm State Department