Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003 - Belgium

The Belgian Government has cooperated with US counterterrorism efforts on several levels. Brussels was timely and proactive in sharing information with the United States regarding terrorist threats to US citizens or facilities. Belgium's Financial Intelligence Unit provided the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Unit with information on individuals and entities with suspected ties to terrorist groups. The Belgian General Intelligence and Security Service also cooperated closely with US authorities.

Belgian authorities are continuing their investigations of several individuals arrested in 2001 who are of interest to the United States. Authorities are examining Richard Reid's activities and associates in Belgium, particularly in light of Reid's stay at a Brussels hotel shortly before he attempted to ignite his shoe bomb while on American Airlines Flight 63 in December 2001. Nizar Trabelsi, a Tunisian national arrested by Belgian authorities in September 2001 for his involvement with a plot to bomb the US Embassy in Paris, claimed in June 2002 that his plan was to attack Kleine Brogel airbase in Belgium. Authorities have nearly completed the investigation of Tarek Maaroufi – a Tunisian-born Belgian national arrested in December 2001 for allegedly providing forged passports to the two assassins of Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Belgian authorities have been working on several initiatives to improve the country's counterterrorism capabilities. In May 2002, the Government created the Office of the Federal Prosecutor, which has the potential of becoming a centralized point of contact for counterterrorism cooperation with other countries. Before the September 11 attacks, Belgium had established an Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) within the federal police to centralize domestic investigations of terrorism-related activity. While the ATU was not given formal jurisdiction over terrorism-related cases, it works closely with local police.

Parliament passed legislation expanding the range of investigative measures available to police and was to consider a draft bill that would enhance the Government's ability to combat terrorism. The bill defines and outlaws membership in, or support for, a terrorist organization. Additional pieces of legislation aimed at enhancing the capabilities of the intelligence service to track terrorist suspects and increasing the access of counterterrorism officials to information gathered by independent investigative magistrates were also being drafted.

Belgium is a party to six of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism. Belgium has frozen the assets of individuals and entities included on the UNSCR 1267 Sanctions Committee's consolidated list of individuals as being associated with Usama Bin Ladin, members of al-Qaida, and members of the Taliban.


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