22/04/2013

Belgian Interior Minister visits Washington (CIA, FBI,)

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22/04/2013

The Belgian Interior Minister Joëlle Milquet (Francophone Christian democrat) has arrived in Washington DC for a three-day visit. Ms Milquet is being accompanied on the visit to the United States capital by the Head of the Federal Police Service Catherine De Bolle and the Director of the Coordination Centre for Threat Analysis (OCAD) André Vandoren.
Mr Vandoren is also the coordinator of the federal action plan against religious radicalism.

The Belgian delegation hopes that through meetings with the American authorities and security services it will be able to learn which measures the United States takes to combat terrorism and violence stemming from religious radicalism.

The Belgians will visit the National Counter Terrorism Center, the CIA, the FBI, the Terrorist Screening Center and the American Justice and Homeland Security ministries.

Ms Milquet will meet with the Head of the CIA John Brennan. Meetings with the American Homeland Security Minister and members of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications are also planned, as are visits to the American Congress and the House of Representatives.

http://www.deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws.english/Politics/13...

25/03/2013

Jihadists in Syria: paid by Saudi Arabia and Qatar

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Saudi Arabia May Be Tied to 9/11, 2 Ex-Senators Say


February 29, 2012

WASHINGTON — For more than a decade, questions have lingered about the possible role of the Saudi government in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, even as the royal kingdom has made itself a crucial counterterrorism partner in the eyes of American diplomats.

Now, in sworn statements that seem likely to reignite the debate, two former senators who were privy to top secret information on the Saudis’ activities say they believe that the Saudi government might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks.

“I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, said in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government and dozens of institutions in the country by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Mr. Graham led a joint 2002 Congressional inquiry into the attacks.

His former Senate colleague, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the separate 9/11 Commission, said in a sworn affidavit of his own in the case that “significant questions remain unanswered” about the role of Saudi institutions. “Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued,” Mr. Kerrey said.

Their affidavits, which were filed on Friday and have not previously been disclosed, are part of a multibillion-dollar lawsuit that has wound its way through federal courts since 2002. An appellate court, reversing an earlier decision, said in November that foreign nations were not immune to lawsuits under certain terrorism claims, clearing the way for parts of the Saudi case to be reheard in United States District Court in Manhattan.

Lawyers for the Saudis, who have already moved to have the affidavits thrown out of court, declined to comment on the assertions by Mr. Graham and Mr. Kerrey. “The case is in active litigation, and I can’t say anything,” said Michael K. Kellogg, a Washington lawyer for the Saudis.

Officials at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, who have emphatically denied any connection to the attacks in the past, did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

The Saudis are seeking to have the case dismissed in part because they say American inquiries — including those in which Mr. Graham and Mr. Kerrey took part — have essentially exonerated them. A recent court filing by the Saudis prominently cited the 9/11 Commission’s “exhaustive” final report, which “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi individuals funded” Al Qaeda.

But Mr. Kerrey and Mr. Graham said that the findings should not be seen as an exoneration and that many important questions about the Saudis’ role had never been fully examined, partly because their panels simply did not have the time or resources given their wider scope.

Terry Strada of New Vernon, N.J., whose husband died in the World Trade Center, said it was “so absurd that it’s laughable” for the Saudis to claim that the federal inquiries had exonerated them.

Unanswered questions include the work of a number of Saudi-sponsored charities with financial links to Al Qaeda, as well as the role of a Saudi citizen living in San Diego at the time of the attacks, Omar al-Bayoumi, who had ties to two of the hijackers and to Saudi officials, Mr. Graham said in his affidavit.

Still, Washington has continued to stand behind Saudi Arabia publicly, with the Justice Department joining the kingdom in trying to have the lawsuits thrown out of court on the grounds that the Saudis are protected by international immunity.

State Department officials did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday on the impact of the court declarations.

The senators’ assertions “might inject some temporary strain or awkwardness at a diplomatic level,” said Kenneth L. Wainstein, a senior national security official in the George W. Bush administration. Even so, he said, “the United States and the Saudis have developed strong counterterrorism cooperation over the last decade, and that relationship will not be undermined.”

ERIC LICHTBLAU

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/us/graham-and-kerrey-se...

Photo: Belgian jihadists of the Sharia4Belgium Group are figthing in Syria. They are well paid...

24/03/2013

Minister Milquet: Belgian jihadists fighting in Syria

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'Task Force to investigate Belgian participation in Syrian war'

Interior Minister Joëlle Milquet has launched a Task Force to look into the problem of Belgian youngsters going to Syria to join the civil war there. The Task Force will meet a first time on Monday and includes members of the counter-terrorism unit OCAD, intelligence services, the judicial authorities, the crisis centre and the police.

Over the past weeks, Belgian press reports told about Belgian Muslim converts travelling to Syria to take part in the war under the influence of the extremist organisation Sharia4Belgium. Although Sharia4Belgium was officially dismantled, it still has a big influence behind the scenes, it turns out. It is believed that 50 to 80 young Belgians left their homeland to fight in Syria.

The Task Force will try to find out how it can be avoided that even more youngsters join the Syrian war. Experts will monitor the present situation and examine how the youths can be brought back to Belgium.

Ms Milquet is not a supporter of new legislation to punish those joining the fights in Syria. However, last month anti-terror laws were given more scope. This implies that youngsters joining terrorist organisations to fight, will be subject to prosecution.

http://www.deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws.english/news/130324_Task_Force_Syria

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'Milquet wil halt toe roepen aan Belgische jongeren die in Syrië strijden'

23 maart, 2013

Minister van Binnenlandse Zaken Joëlle Milquet heeft een task force opgericht rond de problematiek van Belgische jongeren die in Syrië gaan strijden. De task force komt maandagvoormiddag bijeen en bestaat onder meer uit vertegenwoordigers van het OCAD, de staatsveiligheid, het federaal parket, het crisiscentrum en de politie, zo werd vernomen.

De beslissing dateert van vrijdag. De afgelopen dagen verschenen in de pers verschillende verhalen van bekeerde jongeren die onder meer onder invloed van het ontbonden Sharia4Belgium als moslimstrijders naar Syrië trekken. In totaal zou het gaan om vijftig tot tachtig jongeren.

De task force moet onder meer nagaan hoe kan worden vermeden dat nog meer jongeren naar Syrië vertrekken, de toestand opvolgen en onderzoeken hoe de jongeren terug naar België gehaald kunnen worden, zo verklaarde minister Milquet op de VRT.

Foto: Belgian jihadists, Sharia4Belgium

http://www.vandaag.be/binnenland/120830_milquet-wil-halt-toe-roepen-aan-belgische-jongeren-die-in-syrie-strijden.html

25/09/2012

Belgian weapons and jihadists in Syria

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August 3, 2012

The Belgian State Security "has not confirmed" the rumor that Belgian jihadists are fighting in Syria. Thursday, the newspapers 'Het Belang van Limburg' and 'Gazet van Antwerpen' argued the opposite: "The State Security confirmed the presence of" Belgium".

It is uncommon, that the Belgian State Security issued a statement Thursday to correct statements that were attributed to him: "The State Security (...) confirms that Syria is a destination for international Islamist fighters. But the State Security has not been confirmed (...) that there are Belgians among them. "    In short, if the Security denies to have confirmed does not mean - this is important - it can deny the information.

Originally Flemish newspapers relied on a report by Reuters, dated July 31, citing statements from "several rebel commanders in the north-west Syria," according to which "Muslims in Great Britain, Belgium and the United States had joined the Free Syrian Army (SLA)". On July 13th, Reuters pointed out a flood "of thousands of assault rifles Belgian FN FAL was in the hands of the rebels".

In its annual reports, the Belgian State Security explains how and why she follows people attracted by fighting abroad: there was attention for Iraq, then, from 2010, to the movement towards Pakistan-Afghanistan border area; Finally, most recently, to new locations: "If the Afghan-Pakistan area, more than Iraq, was still popular in 2010 with the majority of volunteers for jihad", the Belgian State Security wrote in his latest report, "some of them began to plot their way to Yemen, Somalia and the Caucasus". And Syria now? "Obviously. Where they are beaten, those who return and who actually participated in the fighting have gained knowledge on how to handle weapons, strategy and tactics of war," noted the Belgian State Security yesterday. "This is the central reason for the Belgian concern".

Alain Lallemand, Le Soir

http://archives.lesoir.be/djihadistes-belges-la-s%FBrete-...

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Some weeks ago the Belgian Senator Nele Lijnen said that she intends to launch a discussion at the Belgian Senate regarding the fact that the terrorists in Syria possess weapons made in Belgium...