Federal Cabinet approves new anti-terrorism measures

The Federal Cabinet has approved the anti-terrorism measures proposed by the Prime Minister Charles Michel last month. The measures will allow police to carry out searches of properties around the clock and create a dynamic database of those that are involved in the so-called “holy war” or “jihad” will be set up. Information on the identity of airline passengers and those using international rail services will also be retained by the police.

The bill that was approved by the cabinet on Friday morning will make it possible to search properties at any time of the day or night if there is suspicion that weapons, explosives or dangerous substances are present. In terrorism cases the period a suspect can initially be held for questioning will be raised from 24 to 72 hours.

The judicial authorities and the security services will soon have access to a new Foreign Terrorist Fighter Databank containing the names of potential jihadi fighters. The database will be maintained by the Centre for Threat Analysis OCAD.

The Aliens Office, the Interior Ministry Crisis Centre and the State Security Service will also have access to the database. It will contain the name of Belgians and those residing here that have travelled to countries where conflicts involving Islamist terror groups are raging or are planning to do so.

The details of passengers of aircraft and international trains will also go into a police database. There is currently discussion at a European level about a passenger name record system for the whole EU. Belgium will go a step further by registering the names of those travelling on trains.