Jürgen Conings: ‘Serious errors’ made by military secret service, report finds
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Jürgen Conings: ‘Serious errors’ made by military secret service, report finds

Soldiers mass at the National Park in May. Credit: Belga

The military secret service (the General Intelligence and Security Service or ADIV) made “serious mistakes” in the Jürgen Conings case, according to a report by the Committee I, which is responsible for reviewing the activities and functioning of State Security.

The report was a result of the Conings case, in which the extremist career soldier went missing with heavy weaponry stolen from the army’s weapon depot, and will be discussed in the Defence Committee first before members of parliament will go into the details behind closed doors later this afternoon.

“It is unmistakable that serious errors occurred at all levels of the service, but also in the hierarchical line within Defence,” the report, of which parts were seen by Belga news agency, read.

According to the committee, the Conings case was an example of the failings of the intelligence services, and of ADIV in particular, that have been noted by the committee over the past decade.

The report specifically looked into the Conings affair and how he was granted access to military quarters to steal weapons, despite him being classified as a level 3 threat since February this year, and noted that there was limited supervision of Conings in his unit, which the report argued showed “a failure in the flow of information and a lack of a clear policy on extremism”.

The report found that this communication problem was not only an internal Defence problem but that it was also found between the different security actors, including the police, investigating judge and the public prosecutor.

“On 29 June last year, State Security also sent a warning to the ADIV, the OCAD (Coordinating Unit for Threat Analysis) and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office about Conings, which specifically stated that he was a part of the “most radical right-wing extremist groups in Belgium”.

It further stressed there was a general and structural lack of staff, a high turnover of personnel, which resulted in a loss of knowledge and experience.

Meanwhile, it found that Conings’ racist statements on Facebook had not been followed up because the judicial authorities considered a disciplinary sanction more appropriate.

The report will be discussed on Monday at 1:00 PM in the Defence Committee during an exchange of views with Minister Ludivine Dedonder and at 4:15 PM, behind closed doors in the parliament.

Dedonder has not yet commented on the report, but previously said she is preparing a series of reforms, including drastically increasing the security screenings for military personnel.

Meanwhile, De Morgen uncovered that another person with extremist beliefs was a security officer in the same barracks as Conings for years and that he still sometimes works as a guard in the ammunition depot, despite the military secret service knowing he has ties with the Hells Angels, known for being involved in drug, human and arms trafficking.