Committee reveals major failings in Belgian intelligence services

Committee reveals major failings in Belgian intelligence services
Image by Andrea Toxiri from Pixabay

The Belgian Standing Intelligence Agencies Review Committee (Comité R) has uncovered major failings in the Belgian intelligence and security system, according to a report presented behind closed doors on 8 June and disclosed to Sudinfo.

The committee notably investigated the Belgian intelligence services’ handling of the Jürgen Conings case (the far-right soldier who made terrorist threats and stole weaponry before being found dead after a manhunt). According to the investigation, the debacle was “an illustration of the shortcomings observed over the past ten years within the intelligence services.”

The committee noted that a lack of staff and high staff turnover had led to the loss of experienced workers. Furthermore, the lack of policy on extremism and faulty information sharing between different security actors led to serious problems within the intelligence service.

“There is significant room for improvement,” the Committee notes. It is now calling for a complete overhaul of the Belgian General Information and Security Service (SGRS) and greater screening of defence personnel, both civilian and military.

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Disturbingly, some members of the military and other security services have never undergone any security screening throughout their application, recruitment, or during their career.

The committee is also assessing the National Security Authority (ANS), which it accuses of “nonchalance and irresponsibility” in the execution of its duties.

“This public pody, which issues security clearances, is not connected to the common database. It has not even made the request,” Sudinfo stated. The common database in reference is Ocam, which includes all individuals on file who present a threat to the state.

The committee also denounced the lack of vigilance employed by universities when accepting students of foreign military backgrounds. It urges greater risk assessments before welcoming these individuals.

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