“Since the exception [special methods] is nowadays used so often, it is no longer exceptional.”
Belgium — Intel Oversight Committee Annual Report (December 2019)
“Brussels has now overtaken Vienna when it comes to the density of so-called intelligence services from outside the EU.”
Peter Gridling — Head of Austria’s domestic intelligence agency (June 2018)
“Belgium may seem an unlikely destination for a Chinese agent. In fact, it’s a den of spies, according to domestic intelligence agency State Security (VSSE). It says the number of operatives is at least as high as during the Cold War, and Brussels is their chessboard.”
How Belgium Became Europe’s Den of Spies and a Gateway for China — Bloomberg (November 28 2019)
The Belgian Intelligence Oversight Committee has just released its Annual Report. A few items and one conclusion caught my attention. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
RELATED POST: City of Spies — Hellish Week for Belgian Spooks
The Committee is wondering what justifies the striking increase in the use of “special intelligence methods”.
These methods refer to telephone taps, searching houses secretly and intercepting and viewing email traffic.
In 2018, both civilian and military intelligence services have deployed these special intelligence methods a total of 2,445 times, far more often than in the past.
The growth of Chinese espionage appears to play a significant role in this increase.
Abdul Qadeer Kahn — Khan, widely regarded as the father of Pakistan nuclear bomb, studied engineering at a Belgian university (KU Leuven) in the late 60s to early 70s.
The Committee was tasked to investigate what actions, if any, were taken by the Belgian Intel Services to monitor Kahn activities and what role Professor Martin Brabers, who was his friend and mentor, played in this affair.
The investigation began in the second part of 2018 and ended in early 2019. The report is not published. Only the title of the investigation is known:
“Enquête de contrôle sur la position d’information des services de renseignement sur un scientiﬁ que pakistanais, actif dans le milieu académique belge, et sur ses connaissances en matière de haute technologie acquises sur les armes de destruction massive, qui ont ﬁnalement été utilisées pour développer des armes nucléaires au Pakistan”
Dag Hammarskjold — Regarding the UN investigation into the death of Dag Hammarskjold, the report notes that, unlike the UK and South Africa, Belgium “fully” collaborated with the UN investigators.
“The [UN] interim report conﬁrms that full access was given by Belgium to all ﬁles and archives kept by the Ministry of Defence, the State security Service (VSSE) and the General Intelligence and Security service (GISS, military intelligence service).”
However, the report observes that the mandate has not covered a review of the archives of non-state actors or private organisations. [That is of course where the truth is to be found…]
The UN interim report from Belgium identiﬁes information relevant to the presence of foreign paramilitary and intelligence personnel in and around the Congo at the relevant
time, as well as to the capacity of the aerial forces of Katanga.’
Comité permanent de Contrôle des services de renseignements et de sécurité — RAPPORT D’ACTIVITÉS 2018
Belgium — Intel Oversight Committee Annual Report Released