http://censored31.skynetblogs.be/ is made by what it calls itself "Center for Research and Islamic intelligence" but by all the looks is an international english language direct reporting pro-holy war blog. It is linked with a number of other international jihad blogs and forums like this one
The problem with the blog is that instead of having only good articles and analyses which you can appreciate - even if you don't agree - they are mixed with videos and other stuff of martyrdom, terrorism and jihad in which there is no doubt about the essence of the message. Which is a pity, but makes the blog even more dangerous by mixing research and jihad. It is even a mix of werkgroep zonhoven paranoia, anti-polio hysteria and other master conspiracies theories that are invading the 'real truth' web. But this doesn't mean that the jihad part of its message is acceptable.
and with quotes like these, what would you think about the message of the blog ?
O Allah, make them and their weaponry a booty for the Mujahideen
O Allah, you are our support and you are our only Victor; by your order we attack; by your order we retreat and by your order we fight
O Allah, the sky is yours; the earth is yours; the sea is yours, so whatever forces they have in the sky, drop them. Destroy all their forces in earth and sink all their forces in sea
O Allah, deal with them for verily they can never disable you
O Allah, retaliate upon them, afflict them like you did to Pharaoh and his nation
O Alah afflict their country with floods, make them in need of money and food and persons
O Allah defeat them, destroy them O the All-Strong, the All-Mighty
"Honor, Power and Glory belong to Allah, His Messenger and the believers, but the hypocrites know not"
Don't we have Belgian soldiers over there and families of them over here ? Is Skynetblogs not part of Belgacom, a semi-public enterprise ? And is this not HATE ?
So why is this kind of stuff accepted over here, even if it is contrary to the conditions of use ?
Hacking into online accounts, breaking into buildings and intercepting communications are special methods that the police in Belgium can use following a law could BOM. From next week on there will also be a BIM that will legislate the use of these techniques by the Belgian secret services. There is in both some overview and some access although the BOM has more guarantees than the BIM, which is natural because how can you have a secret investigation by a secret service if everyone can go to the secret service and ask to know if they are being monitored and why.
I have three problems with this.
The first problem with the BIM and the BOM also according to some news reports is that all the data that are collected aren't destroyed when they aren't used or useful in the investigation (or the result of the investigation is that nothing malicious or illegal is happening). Also when you monitor phone calls and other communications from persons and organisation you have a lot of collatoral privacy damage. People who contact each other without knowing that the other may be (or not) a suspected sleeper or spy. These innocent bystanders have not only lost their privacy but the fact that they stay on the computer and on the radars of the police and intelligence services can have serious consequences if they are looking for certain jobs or promotions or are investigated for other things that aren't related in any way to their purely personal contacts with these persons.
It is the same discussion in the retention debate. Do you monitor a whole society and all of its communications to find eventually some links between some spies or terrorists or do you invest your money in having a clearly monitored view on the sleeper-radical-violent scene and the espionage/sabotage happenings ? In this case they should clean those records every so many months from collatoral privacy damage that is of no use for intelligence or police work.This doesn't seem the NSA way to do things by the way, but they seem to have unlimited budgets.
The second problem was stated by the head of the Belgian secret service on Television yesterday. By the way, I would like more PR like that because It is not because the agents are secretive that their direction and PR services should be. You can't have support from the community and society if you are living like Robison Crusoe, getting ever more paranoid by the day :) In the end it is the whole of our society that will have to stop the influence of radicalism and violence and promote democracy, integration, debate and compromise. It are the professionals that will have to defend our economy and networks against espionage and sabotage.
He said something very important which made me think about what happened with all the information going up to 9/11 and the christmas plot 09. The information was there and it could have been used but it wasn't treated or translated or transmitted because there wasn't enough knowledge or manpower. He said he neither had the funds, the manpower, the technology nor the knowledge to do the things that he was supposed to do because the federal government doesn't have enough money for it.
So why invest millions to have all our data all the time during some time when you could invest it in an official institution with judicial and democratic supervision and accountability (which could be better by the way) that needs to have all the knowledge and manpower and technology that is available to their counterparts to be able to have solid and efficient working relations with them which would be of a big advantage in this interconnected world with interconnected dangers.
In some countries they already have also created some other procedures and platforms to be sure that they have the most recent knowledge and necessary manpower to respond to these challenges.
* in some countries civil servants can be obliged to work for or with the secret service if they have certain knowledge (you pledge alliance to the state, democracy and king so...)
* in some countries secret services employ ITsec and 'hackers' on a regular basis
* in some countries secret services have community initiatives for the ITsec community
If one thinks that only some underpaid and understaffed services will be able to continue to defend our society, economy and democracy against the challenges and risks of our present political and economical environment, than i wish them good luck (much of casino luck).
So no, I am not a total privacy and transparancy person. But I don't like big brother either. I want an efficient brother I can trust and where I know that there are bigger brothers watching over his shoulder all the time any time.
The third and last problem is that all those investments are of no use if you don't act on it. Other countries are sending islamic radical priests home (where they came from) and are disbanding terrorist funding organisations. Other countries are making neonazi activities illegal. Other countries are doing more to defend their technological knowledge and research against espionage. Maybe it is not made public here as it is in other countries but this is not smart PR. If people would see that there were actions undertaken - attributed or not to the work of the secret services - they would understand not only why it is necessary but also why it is fruitful.
And yes, I want transparancy, control, privacy and a normal rule of law. But 9/11 and the other big attacks on European soil did happen. CCC and Bende Van Nijvel (paramilitary attacks on supermarkets) did at the time have a grave influence on our Belgian society and democracy and were luckily stopped in time. So it is always trying to find a balance between both goals. This is a discussion that the intelligence services, politicians and the activists have to engage in with each other (there is no platform for that now). Both sides of the discussion have to understand each other better. Because we all want democracy and society to be open, free and peaceful.
Technology or even profilers are no solution for investigations that don't get the priorities from the beginning they ought to have. This is the case with the 'Gang of Nivelles' that terrorised our country nearly two decades ago but where never caught. Meanwhile 3 million documents have been scanned (and only part of it is translated in the other official language of Belgium).
So if you have to do an investigation you have to get it right from the beginning and not hope that others will be able to clear up the mess or find anything useful if you have forgotten to look where you should have in the first place.
Meanwhile today one of the innocent victims of this carnaval of justice has committed suicide in prison awaiting trial for another crime. He was a petty small criminal at that time but his wife found out that he had an affair so she went to the police and denounced him as one of the 'Gang of Nivelles'. As they didn't find anything or anyone else they decided to take him and some other small petty criminals as the 'gang of Nivelles' which nobody believed. So they were acquitted because the 'gang of Nivelles' committed another holdup-attack while they were were in prison.