The Belgian Federal Police and Europol, the European law enforcement agency, held a joint operational meeting this morning with more than 50 counter terrorism experts and investigators from 30 countries, Eurojust and INTERPOL. The main purpose of this operational meeting in Brussels was to explore the international dimensions of the current investigations into the terrorist attacks in Belgium and to support follow up enquiries in other countries. Information about the modus operandi of these attacks was exchanged and discussed in detail.
Belgian investigative authorities initiated the call for this operational meeting with all relevant partners. Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) co-organised the meeting and facilitated attendance by member countries from its dedicated pan-European project on foreign fighters. Belgium is one of the three countries that shares the most information with Focal Point (FP) Travellers, a specialist team that coordinates EU Member States’ investigations into, and data analysis on, foreign terrorist fighters. Catherine De Bolle, Commissioner General of the Belgian Federal Police emphasised the importance of international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, and the coordinating role of Europol.
Europol is firmly committed to supporting Belgium and other Member States in the ongoing investigations, in line with the significant assistance it provided to the French and Belgian authorities in the wake of the attacks in Paris last November. Europol officers are currently seconded to the operational centre in Brussels to channel the maximum possible assistance to the investigations. Europol’s support involves extensive analysis of information and cross-checking of data in all available databases and the provision of specialist services in regard to terrorist financing and radicalised activity online. Through this activity, and the new functions of the European Counter Terrorism Centre especially, Europol offers a unique operational platform to help Belgian and other national authorities coordinate an effective international response to the current terrorist threat. “For many years Europol has enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the Belgian Federal Police and other authorities. We are intent on providing the best possible support to help these and other national authorities investigate the terrible attacks in Brussels and to coordinate an effective pan-European response to what is the most significant terrorist threat faced by Europe in over 10 years. Today’s meeting of European and other authorities is an important part of that response and will strengthen our common capabilities to fight the terrorist networks involved ,” says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.