News / Europe

    Dutch Push Intelligence Sharing After Missed Signals in Paris

    FILE - Belgian soldiers patrol in central Brussels as police search area during a continued high level of security following the recent deadly Paris attacks, Belgium, Nov. 23, 2015.
    FILE - Belgian soldiers patrol in central Brussels as police search area during a continued high level of security following the recent deadly Paris attacks, Belgium, Nov. 23, 2015.
    Reuters

    The Netherlands called on Monday for greater sharing of intelligence data, including lists of suspected foreign fighters and their banking details, at a gathering of global counter-terrorism officials.

    The Dutch, who hold the rotating European Union presidency, circulated a draft outlining the objective to roughly 250 delegates of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) and the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL meeting in The Hague, Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said.

    Although a legal framework for sharing confidential intelligence already exists, the Dutch hope to boost the use of databases at the European and international police agencies Interpol and Europol, in the wake of weak communication before the Nov. 13 Paris attacks.

    Several of the Paris attackers, who killed 130 people with guns and suicide vests, had been on the radar of authorities in various countries, providing opportunities to stop them.

    Turkish authorities detained suicide bomber Brahim Abdeslam and deported him to Belgium months before the attacks, warning that he had been "radicalized" and was suspected of wanting to join Islamic State fighters in Syria.

    "We have the agreements, but it is very important now that... there is a real-time exchange of information," Koenders told journalists ahead of the conference.

    "There has to be the confidence and the trust between the agencies to ensure that it is not only the general knowledge but precise names, the precise travel plans, the precise credit cards," he said.

    One example is the failure to effectively share lists of suspects whose assets have been frozen, making it possible for someone blacklisted to drive across the border and use their bank cards in a neighboring country.

    Another problem is that not all countries provide data or use information made available through systems at Europol and Interpol.

    Beyond monitoring social media and telecommunications intercepts, agencies should be deepening methods to include  swapping of communications between militant suspects, who also chat via popular game consoles such as PlayStation, Koenders said.

    Among participants are the leading counter-terrorism officials from the European Union, Europol, Interpol, the United Nations and top government representatives from the United States, Turkey and Morocco, among others.

    Koenders said on Sunday the "national terrorism" list in the Netherlands had doubled in a year to 42 Dutch citizens and organizations linked to militants in Syria and Iraq.

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