The VRT news service has learned that Belgium is taking part in a secret American-led operation to track down foreign jihadi fighters linked to the terrorist outfit which calls itself IS. Foreign jihadi fighters are being tracked down in Syria and Iraq and are being killed using intelligence collected by Belgians. No Belgians are taking part in the killings themselves.
Belgium’s involvement is restricted to information gathering VRT News’s Jens Franssen reports. Operation “Gallant Phoenix” started in 2015 and was led from the central command of US elite forces. The aim is to collect as much information as possible from the frontline using laptop computers and mobile phones captured from foreign fighters. The fall of Mosul in Iraq yielded a wealth of information.
“Gallant Phoenix”’s command is based in Jordan where information in the large database on foreign fighters is catalogued, analysed and shared. The US aim is to kill as many foreign fighters as possible. At present 21 nations are taking part in the operation.
Belgian defence sources have confirmed Belgian participation in “Gallant Phoenix” for two years now. A small number of Belgians are involved. Originally Belgian Special Forces were to be deployed, but in the event it is Belgian military intelligence that is participating. Members of the Belgian ADIV carry out secret operations abroad using members of the armed forces schooled in intelligence. The ADIV also liaises between Operation “Gallant Phoenix” and the Belgian authorities.
The Brussels Times