“One of the oldest domestic intelligence agencies in continuous existence is Belgium’s civil security service, the Veiligheid van de Staat or Surêté de l’Etat (VSSE).”
Kenneth L. Lasoen
March 9 2017 — Because of a legal mistake, the officers of the Belgian State Security Service were not allowed to legally carry weapons for almost one year. The mistake was detected last month and several dangerous missions are said to have been cancelled. A new law — which corrects this mistake — is entering into force today. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
RELATED POST: City of Spies — Hellish Week for Belgian Spooks
UPDATE (March 9 2019) — This week, Defense Belgian Minister proudly announced that Belgium Intelligence Services will no longer be allowed to “ignore” terrorists.
Although a central actor of the Paris and Brussels actor — Abdelhamid Abaaoud — had been “surveilled” by Belgian Military Services, the information was not passed to the civilian agency.
By the way, Reynders — one of the very few intelligent and capable Belgian politicians — is himself deeply involved in this case.
Indeed, he was one of the Belgian government ministers who made te decision to ask for the release of Ousama Attar from an Iraqi jail, a man now widely regarded as the mastermind of both the Paris and Brussels attacks.
The readers of this blog probably remember that Reynders is also the Minister who decided to contact the Libyan Authorities to find a way to illegally “unfreeze” the frozen accounts of the late Gaddafi in Belgium. Eleven billion euros are still missing….
Gaddafi is gone. But surely, the old colonel — wherever he is — must be enjoying current events.
“Muammar Gaddafi was killed in 2011 but his shadow continues to pursue some politicians, writes Vestifinance listing scandals linked to the former Libyan leader that have broken out in Western countries.” [Shadow of Muammar Gaddafi — Ali Ahmed]
Yesterday, Blair and Clinton… Today, Sarkozy… Tomorow, Prime Minister Trudeau? And do not forget Goldman Sachs and the good old Société Générale. It is not over yet, far from it.
I do not have a crystal ball, but I wonder how long it will take to see a picture of a C-130 Hercules delivering Belgian weapons to rebels in Libya?
END of UPDATE
The State Security Service (VSSE) (known in Dutch as Veiligheid van de Staat and in French as Sûreté de l’État) is a Belgian intelligence and security agency.
The VSSE is a civilian agency under the authority of the Ministry of Justice. [The other federal intelligence agency — the General Information and Security Service — operates under the authority of the Ministry of Defense.] The Belgian Agency is 187 years old.
Since March 2014, the Administrator-General is Jaak Raes. His predecessor, Alain Winants, occupied the position from October 2006 – March 2014) . Before him, the VSSE Administrator-General Koen Dassen (September 2002 – February 2006) had to resign amidst a controversy. (The VSSE ‘lost sight’ of suspected Kurdish militant Fehriye Erdal.)
The main objective of State Security is the collection, analyzing and processing of all intelligence that might prove relevant to the prevention of any activity that might be a threat against the internal or external security of the state, the democratic and constitutional order and international relations, to carry out security inquiries, and to perform tasks in relation to the protection of certain people. [Wikipedia]
In May 2016 — just a few weeks after the Brussels attacks — the Belgian government approved a new law [Arrêté Royal du 23 mai 2016] transferring part of the VSSE competence to the Police. In the process, the legal provision allowing VSSE officers to legally carry weapons was mistakenly abrogated. The error was discovered a few weeks ago and corrected today (March 9 2017). Media are reporting that some surveillance missions of suspected terrorists have been complicated if not cancelled.
Arrêté royal modifiant l’arrêté royal du 23 mai 2016 organisant le transfert des assistants de protection de la Sûreté de l’Etat vers la police fédérale — MONITEUR BELGE March 9 2017
“Vu l’urgence, motivée par l’absence d’un fondement juridique pour la détention et le port d’armes par les services opérationnels (dits « services extérieurs ») de la Sûreté de l’Etat, ce qui implique que les agents des services extérieurs ne disposent pas d’un fondement juridique pour le port d’armes pour leurs opérations en cours et que la présente situation nécessite donc une réparation urgente;
Considérant que le projet d’arrêté royal vise le retrait de l’article 15, b), de l’arrêté royal l’arrêté du 23 mai 2016 `organisant le transfert des assistants de protection de la Sûreté de l’Etat vers la police fédérale’. Cette disposition abrogeait erronément l’article 1er, 8°, de l’arrêté royal du 26 juin 2002 `relatif à la détention et au port d’armes par les services de l’autorité ou de la force publique’. L’article 1er, 8°, de l’arrêté royal du 26 juin 2002 constituait en effet le fondement juridique pour le port d’armes, non seulement par les assistants de protection mais également par les autres agents des services extérieurs de la Sûreté de l’Etat.”
Belgium: State Security Service officers not allowed to carry weapons…because of a legal glitch
Two Years Ago — Belgium: State Security Service officers not allowed to carry weapons…because of a legal glitch