The central anti-terrorism unit of Belgium’s police force has just one part-time worker monitoring internet radicalisation and the online activity of returning jihadis, according to police services watchdog, the Standing Police Monitoring Committee (Committee P).
The fact the Belgian police unit charged with monitoring internet radicalisation – the ‘Internet Intelligence Support Unit’ – is staffed by just one part-timer has been attributed to staff shortages, reports Flanders News. Last year the largest number ever of young Belgians went to fight in Syria, at that time the unit’s team leader and several other staff members left.
Committee P has highlighted this “horrendous” lack of capacity with regards to monitoring the internet. The watchdog pointed to the central role that the internet in general and social media in particular plays in terrorist activity.
Jan Jambon, Belgium’s Minister of the Interior and Deputy Prime Minister, is reported to be aware of the situation. He has pointed out that monitoring internet radicalisation and terrorist activity is not solely the responsibility of the police, Belgium’s state intelligence service is also involved.
A new unit of up to ten police officers has been announced by Mr Jambon, however this will only become operational at the beginning of 2016. The delay and ongoing lack of monitoring has been put down to the need to recruit officers with a specific profile and the requirement to establish a new legal basis for the unit.
The lack of effective monitoring of internet radicalisation and online terror activity is not the first time in recent months that the Belgian government has been criticised for a failure in security issues. As Breitbart London previously reported, despite linking the need for tighter border controls to the European migrant crisis and international terrorist threats post Charlie Hebdo, their implementation was lacking.
Only eight officers were found to be guarding the 125 mile border between Eastern Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany and they were only working between 8.45am to 11.15am then after lunch from 1 pm to 5.30pm and not at all at weekends.
Similarly to the rearguard action being fought by Mr Jambon’s ministry with regards to the ‘Internet Intelligence Support Unit’, it was reported that the border failure would be evaluated and adjusted if deemed necessary.