Garage mosques: "greater scrutiny needed"

Jaak Raes, the head of the Belgian intelligence service or CIA, has revealed that the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) based in the Grand Mosque in Brussels spent 1.2 million euros on spreading its ideology between 2012 and 2014. Mr Raes was speaking in the parliamentary commission investigating the Brussels attacks.

The ICC is widely seen as a disseminator of the Wahhabist ideology, a particularly fundamentalist version of Islam popular is Saudi Arabia.

The ICC is mainly funded by the Saudis. Several ICC officials have close ties to Saudi or have their domicile there.

In addition to the 1.2 million euros a further 600,000 euros was gifted to people and organisations that propagate the Islamic world view.

Intelligence chief Raes conceded to lawmakers that turning individuals into radical Islamic fundamentalists usually doesn't happen in the mosque. He insisted that greater surveillance on what he called "garage mosques" was needed. He identified these mosques as closed environments that are extremely difficult to access. Accessing such bodies required the recruitment of particularly specialised staff.

The intelligence chief told lawmakers not to stare blindly at unrecognised mosques, but to ensure that action is taken in libraries, sports clubs and other localities where the first signs of radicalisation can be noticed.