Tuesday, 24 August 2021
The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan is not expected to lead to an increased risk of terrorist acts in Belgium in the short term, experts said on Monday.
The risk is also limited in the longer term, as the Taliban will not make the same mistake twice, Sven Biscop of Egmont Institute – an independent international policy think-tank – told the Belga news agency.
“I do not think there is an increased risk, even in the long term,” said Biscop. “We have been in Afghanistan for 20 years and during that time there have been major attacks here, including in Brussels. So terrorists do not need Afghanistan as a base for operations.”
“Engaging in international terrorism was also the biggest mistake of the Taliban. If they had not supported al-Qaeda, there might never have been a foreign intervention in Afghanistan,” Biscop said.
“It is likely that the Taliban have learned from their mistakes and will therefore now be mainly focused on consolidating their power in Afghanistan,” he added.
However, Pieter Van Ostaeyen, an expert on terrorism, is less categorical.
He stated that he fears that the return of the Taliban will have negative consequences for the security of our country in the long term.
“At first it will have no impact, but it is possible that Al-Qaeda will regroup,” Van Ostaeyen said. “Al-Qaeda has pledged allegiance to the Taliban. So Afghanistan could again become a haven for this organisation.”
“There is always a risk that terrorists will mix with refugees, as happened with the Islamic State (IS),” he said. “But regarding the people who are currently being repatriated, this risk does not apply, because they have been screened.”
Biscop does not see any reason to worry about that either.
“The attacks in recent years have almost all been committed by people who already lived here, or were even born here,” he said. “I do not think we should see this refugee flow as a security problem, but rather as a humanitarian problem.”
However, the federal police and Interior Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden fear that among the Afghan refugees expected in Belgium in the near future will also be “extremely violent people,” according to an internal email reported on by Het Nieuwsblad.
They are afraid that alongside refugees wanting to come to Belgium, smugglers, extremists, and recruiters will also try to enter the country.
According to the newspaper, the federal police sent out an urgent email, addressed to the services supervising asylum centres, on the subject last week, stating that it wants to get a quick overview of what the “coming considerable migration wave” will entail.
The Brussels Times