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Homeland Security department could clash with other services

10:37 10/07/2014

A new “homeland security” department proposed by N-VA chairman Bart De Wever to tackle the problem of jihadi fighters returning from battle in Syria would risk clashing with existing services like state intelligence and the terror risk co-ordination office, according to criminologist and security expert Brice De Ruyver.

De Wever floated the idea of a new department earlier this week on Dutch TV, when he evoked the risk to security of young men who have become radicalised and have gone to Syria to fight on the side of radical Islamist groups. If and when they return, they could potentially become involved in terrorist actions.

One example is Mehdi Nemmouche, the 29-year-old French national accused of carrying out the shooting attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May. Nemmouche (pictured) spent a year in Syria fighting with anti-government forces.

According to De Wever, the problem is one that can only be dealt with on a national or European level.

However, De Ruyver warned that previous attempts to create such a body in the past have met with little success. “As a historian, Bart De Wever ought to know that,” he said. One example is the Criminal Intelligence Management office of the 1970s, an anti-drugs agency based on the US Drugs Enforcement Agency. The agency was plagued by problems and never achieved integration with other police services.

If a new organisation arrives on a terrain where one already exists, they work against each other,” De Ruyver said. “That is a known fact.”

De Wever’s proposal was also criticised by Mechelen mayor Bart Somers, appearing on the Terzake news programme. “We already have today all of the instruments required to tackle the problem of Syria fighters,” Somers said. “Those have to be reinforced. More has to be done to deal with the problem, but no new instruments need to be created.”

Photo: Federal Police

Written by Alan Hope