Some 20 Belgians with extreme right-wing ideologies have participated in paramilitary training camps abroad in recent years, Justice Minister Koen Geens said in Parliament.
Belgian security services are aware mainly of training camps in Eastern Europe and countries of the former Soviet Union.
While Geens claims that there is no indication of any direct links between the Flemish student movement Schild en Vrienden and the training camps, it does not rule out the possibility that individual members of the nationalist group have taken part in such training camps, Geens said.
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Schild en Vrienden came into the public eye in 2018 when the VRT made a controversial documentary about them. A student representative at UGent called the movement “a paramilitary association that is trying to disrupt our democracy.”
These paramilitary trainings are not “illegal by definition,” Geens stressed. Some of these camps provide services to security companies. But participation in training in Eastern Europe “is, of course, an element that is taken into account in the decision to include a right-wing extremist” in a common database.
Such a database includes foreign terrorists, domestic terrorists, hate preachers and potentially violent extremists. The database currently contains 25 persons with links to the extreme right.
Participants in this type of paramilitary training endanger national security, according to Geens. Ecolo and Green (Belgium’s French-speaking and Dutch-speaking Green parties) want better monitoring, with a similar approach for right-wing extremists to the de-radicalisation imposed on those who go abroad to fight for Islamic State (IS).
The Brussels Times