Federal Prosecutor calls for ban on visiting jihadi websites

The Federal Prosecutor Frédéric Van Leeuw has called for the outlawing of logging on to websites that encourage terrorism. Mr Van Leeuw was speaking in an interview with the daily ‘De Standaard’.
Nicolas Maeterlinck

The Federal Prosecutor Frédéric Van Leeuw has called for the outlawing of logging on to websites that encourage terrorism.

Mr Van Leeuw was speaking in an interview with the daily ‘De Standaard’. Meanwhile, the Federal Prime Minister Charles Michel (Francophone liberal) has said that he is “open to any measures that would lead to greater efficiency in the fight against terrorism.

Mr Van Leeuw is in charge of all investigations related to terrorist offences in Belgium. In the wake of Tuesday evening’s failed terrorist attack he calls for drastic measures.

In the daily ‘De Standaard’, the Federal Prosecutor calls for it to be made a criminal offence for those consciously are looking for jihadi propaganda to visit jihadist websites.

"In Belgium it is already illegal to visit sites featuring images of child abuse. So why not do the same for jihadi sites featuring violent images or instructions”.

Viewing horrific images can encourage terrorism

"In terrorism cases it often transpires that the suspect has images of a beheading on his mobile phone. Why would anyone download such horrific images? Or why would anyone search for a video in which instructions are given on how to make a bomb?” Mr Van Leeuw says that it is time to act.

"Without restricting freedom of speech, it should be possible to ban the possession or at the very least the conscious searching of jihadist propaganda, particularly if it includes certain instructions”, Mr Van Leeuw told the paper.

The Federal Prosecutor added that there is no 100% sure-fast way of preventing terrorism. The perpetrator of Tuesday evening’s failed attack appears not to be part of a terrorist cell and did not feature on any list of potential terrorists.

The EU is currently working on a directive that will make it an offence to use means such as the internet to learn how to be a terrorist.

Charles Michel "Always open for greater efficiency in the battle against terrorism"

Speaking in response to Mr Van Leeuw’s interview, the Federal Prime Minister Charles Michel (Francophone liberal) said "We will carry out an evaluation and listen to the views of our security services”.

"However, it won’t be an easy exercise, because we will need to strike a balance between fundamental rights and freedoms, including on the internet, on the one hand and security on the other”.

Mr. Michel was unable to say whether new laws will be introduced making it illegal to visit jihadi websites.