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Government Committee Recommends Improved Surveillance of Muslim Brotherhood in Belgium

March 29th, 2022 12:47

Bel­gian media is report­ing that a gov­ern­ment com­mit­tee respon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing Bel­gium’s police secu­ri­ty and intel­li­gence agen­cies has rec­om­mend­ed that sur­veil­lance of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in Bel­gium be improved. Accord­ing to a Brus­sels Times report:

The Comité R respon­si­ble to mon­i­tor Belgium’s var­i­ous police, secu­ri­ty and intel­li­gence agen­cies, pub­lished its report ear­li­er in the week out­lin­ing a series of rec­om­men­da­tions to improve the sur­veil­lance of the activ­i­ties of The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in Bel­gium. The main con­clu­sions of the report point to a lack of coop­er­a­tion between the country’s intel­li­gence and secu­ri­ty agen­cies Bel­ga News Agency reports. These include the Gen­er­al Intel­li­gence and Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (GISS) which is the Bel­gian mil­i­tary ser­vice under the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the Defence Min­istry, the civil­ian Bel­gian State Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (VSSE), the var­i­ous police agen­cies and OCAM, an inde­pen­dent cen­tre which assess the ter­ror­ist and extrem­ist threat in Bel­gium. “The inves­ti­ga­tion reveals a lack of coop­er­a­tion between the intel­li­gence ser­vices and their part­ners, which results in a lack of com­mon def­i­n­i­tion of the phe­nom­e­non but also a lack of shared analy­sis of the threat lev­el, which rais­es ques­tions,” the Com­mit­tee says. The gov­ern­ment asked the Comité R (Stand­ing Intel­li­gence Agen­cies Review Com­mit­tee) to inves­ti­gate the Mus­lim Brotherhood’s pres­ence in Bel­gium, and con­duct a report fol­low­ing the deba­cle sur­round­ing the nom­i­na­tion of Ihsane Haoach last year by the polit­i­cal green par­ty Eco­lo to par­lia­ment. The par­ty mem­ber had to quick­ly resign after var­i­ous direct and indi­rect links to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood move­ment were revealed. Accord­ing to the report, the move­ment which was found­ed in Egypt in 1928 is present in Bel­gium. The report spec­i­fies that there is no direct threat linked from the move­ment against any Bel­gian insti­tu­tion. How­ev­er, the intel­li­gence ser­vice (GISS) con­sid­er them to be a “dan­ger”. As for the Bel­gian State Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (VSSE), the move­ment is even con­sid­ered to con­sti­tute a “high pri­or­i­ty threat in terms of extrem­ism since their short-term strat­e­gy could cre­ate a cli­mate of polar­i­sa­tion and seg­re­ga­tion with­in Bel­gian soci­ety, and thus con­sti­tute a vec­tor of radicalisation.”

Read the rest here.

In 2008, the GIOR senior edi­tor pub­lished the first known pub­lic report on the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in Bel­gium, a report which was gen­er­al­ly ridiculed in Bel­gian media, with one jour­nal­ist call­ing it “para­noid delir­i­um.” How­ev­er, fol­low­ing the 2015 ter­ror attacks in Verviers,  a Bel­gian city sin­gled out in the report, Bel­gian and glob­al media began to rec­og­nize the real­i­ty of what the 2008 report had iden­ti­fied. As not­ed in The Guardian at the time:

As long ago as 2008, US researchers from a group called 9/11 Find­ing Answers iden­ti­fied Verviers as a hotbed of rad­i­cal Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and Hamas adherents.

In July 2021, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed that Ihsane Haouach, appoint­ed the coun­try’s top gen­der equal­i­ty com­mis­sion­er, resigned before start­ing her term amid mount­ing crit­i­cism about her poten­tial Mus­lim Broth­er­hood ties and con­tro­ver­sial remarks she made on state neu­tral­i­ty. The GIOR report not­ed that accord­ing to an intel­li­gence mem­o­vHaouach main­tains “close con­tact” with the League of Mus­lims of Bel­gium (LMB), one of the main Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tions in Bel­gium. The LMB was iden­ti­fied in the above ref­er­enced 2008 report as an umbrel­la orga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent­ing the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in Belgium.