The Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior addressed the challenges in preventing terrorism in Belgium at the annual Herzliya conference in Israel this week. “I accepted the invitation to Israel without hesitation and feel honored to be here,” Jan Jambon said in his introduction. “No country is immune against the evil of violent extremism. The fight against terrorism requires international cooperation. We are in same boat.”
The Israeli hosts were probably satisfied hearing Jambon stating that there is no excuse whatsoever for terrorism.
While local circumstances and specific root causes are relevant for preventing terrorism, the Israeli government is claiming that the world is facing a common challenge in fighting Islamic terrorism.
The Belgian minister did not mention Islamic terrorism by its name when he spoke on Wednesday (15 June) at the Herzliya conference. He focused on the measures the Belgian government is currently implementing to prevent and suppress violent radicalization in Belgium.
Without going into the details of the measures, 30 in total, he stated that they have been supported by a significant increase in the budgets to the police force, intelligence bodies and the judiciary in Belgium: 200 million € in 2015 and 400 million € in 2016.
He criticized the previous governments in Belgium for underfunding counter-terrorism measures by “incomprehensible budget cuts”. The increased budgets will be accompanied by more stringent legislation.
Jambon admitted that Belgium has provided the largest number of foreign terrorist fighters per capita for the cause of the Islamic State but claimed that the number has declined by 70 % during the last 2 years. They share a common profile, being born in Europe, with a criminal past before becoming radicalized.
“Our neighborhoods must stop being a breeding ground for violent radicalism and terrorism,” Jambon said. “I’m optimistic and believe that terrorists will not succeed in destroying our country.”
The challenge now is to reconquer the hearts of those who have become radicalized. Signs of radicalization should be identified early on. All returning fighters should be monitored and their ID cards cancelled to prevent them from returning to the battle fields in Iraq and Syria.
The conference took place at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel, and deals with Israel’s political and economic agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country’s public policy planning.
A large number of Israeli and international politicians, diplomats, economists and military experts were invited to the conference.
Jambon’s speech was part of a session on “Europe: Between Immigration and Radicalization”. Another speaker in this session was Jurgen Ruttgers, former Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
The Belgian minister declined to be interviewed by journalists at the conference.
The Brussels Times