Study claims Belgium recruiting ground for Islamic 'radicals'

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2002 13:16:52 +0100

BRUSSELS, (Reuters) - Belgium is a recruiting ground for Islamic
militants, with one in 10 mosques used to spread anti-Western ideas,
senators privy to secret service testimony said on Thursday. A
confidential Senate report based on evidence from the state security
service and seen only by members of the upper house's oversight
committee, said Belgium was being used to recruit anti-Western radicals.


"It is the first time we have a global view of the danger, a view we did
not have in the past," Senator Hugo Vandenberghe, a member of the
committee, 
told Reuters.

"The conclusion is that there are extremist groups recruiting in
Brussels, that there is an influence from certain mosques to mobilise
people who are not compatible with Western society and civilisation," he
said, adding that certain foreign nations -- via their embassies -- also
exert influence.

The assessment was that these groups could turn militant if tension
worsened in the Middle East, he added. Several Belgian men of foreign
descent were arrested by U.S. forces in Afghanistan after the collapse
of the Islamic purist Taliban government last November.

Vandenberghe said young Arab immigrants who are not yet integrated into
Belgian society were the main target of Islamist recruiters, as they
were more susceptible to anti-Western views.

Several hundred people were involved in radical Muslim groups in
Belgium, which has a population of 10 million, he said. According to the
report, about 30 of Belgium's 300 mosques are considered radical. "That
is a minimum because it's just an estimate. The influence is larger than
those 30 but maybe these mosques are more outspoken," he added. 

Another committee member, Senator Martine Taelman, said Belgium needed
to pay more attention to the long-term strategy of radical Islamic
groups. "It is very difficult to screen those mosques because the
situation can change very quickly as religious leaders shift between
mosques, and mosques 
considered as moderate can become radical and vice-versa," Taelman said.
Vandenberghe said Belgium's state security service needed more resources
to deal with the emerging threat.

In the United States, FBI Director Robert Mueller announced plans on
Wednesday to shift hundreds of agents to boost the crime-fighting
agency's 
counter-terrorism activities.

Source: Reuters

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