By LAURENS CERULUS
A Belgian parliamentary committee scrutinizing the country’s handling of the March 22 terror attacks will complete its report before the first anniversary of the bombings, according to the MP leading the inquiry.
The “extraordinary investigatory committee for the fight against terror” was created to assess why law enforcement failed to prevent the attacks, as well as the response of emergency services as suicide bombers struck the Belgian capital’s airport and metro system in the spring, killing 32 people.
MPs on the committee are finalizing a list of recommendations that will be presented to parliament in March 2017.
According to committee chairman and Flemish Liberal Patrick Dewael’s team, MPs will deliver “a bulky report.”
Belgian authorities were criticized for failing to share intelligence prior to the attacks, underfunding security services and not detaining key suspects.
“Different services in Belgium are obliged to share information but in 2016 we’ve again seen that this information isn’t always sufficiently shared,” said Thomas Vanwing, spokesperson for committee chairman Dewael.
Peter De Roover, a Flemish-nationalist member of the committee, also criticized Brussels’ telecoms network, which he said is vulnerable to shutdown during times of high demand.
“Since March 22, police forces have discovered WhatsApp,” he said, explaining how authorities have resorted to the online messaging app to better exchange information.
Parliament’s assessment will also pinpoint how information failed to flow between police units prior to the attacks, De Roover said. He added that the report will include how police authorities failed to follow procedures for handling terrorism and serious crime.
“One of the dysfunctions is what I call ‘infobesity’: information is interesting but if you have too much of it you won’t find anything,” De Roover said.
The committee will meet until mid-March and present its results soon afterwards.
MPs’ ‘bulky report’ on Brussels attacks ready by March
Authorities have since embraced WhatsApp to communicate.