Nations vow better intelligence sharing to halt terror attacks

Foreign ministers and diplomats from over 50 nations today bowed to calls for greater information sharing to stop extremists slipping across borders to carry out attacks, making concrete pledges to plug dangerous intelligence lapses.

AFP| Last Updated: Jan 12, 2016, 01:27 AM IST

The Hague: Foreign ministers and diplomats from over 50 nations today bowed to calls for greater information sharing to stop extremists slipping across borders to carry out attacks, making concrete pledges to plug dangerous intelligence lapses.

The participants unveiled a raft of resolutions after a day-long meeting at the headquarters of the European police agency Europol in The Hague.

"We all agree that we need to share information better, smarter and faster," Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders told a press conference. Intel sharing "has to be more precise including in such areas as the interruption of travel plans and the financing of terror plans".

"We made specific agreements between foreign intelligence units, concrete cooperation between financial institutions and law enforcement agencies," he said.

This included launching a "knowledge hub" consisting of a team of experts who will gather all information "in one place about foreign terror fighters including who they are, their background, what their travel plans are, what routes they are taking and their relationship with organised crime," Koenders said.

In the wake of the November 13 Paris attacks, allegedly masterminded by a Belgian-born extremist, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders had admitted that more must be done.

"Intelligence services must get used to not only collecting information, but to sharing it," he told AFP on the sidelines of the talks hosted by The Netherlands.

"We are doing it more and more among European services, but there is still work to be done," he acknowledged. While there was a lot of bilateral cooperation, Reynders said it was not happening "in a very structured fashion between very many states."

Held as part of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum and the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group, the talks took place nearly two months after the Paris attacks which killed 130 people.

And they come as The Netherlands begins its six-month rotating presidency of the European Union. "What we face today is terrorism 2.0. Like a virus, it adapts to survive and becomes more resilient," Koenders said earlier.

"We are not dealing with the stereotypical terrorist we see in the movies. The type that can be defeated by a one-man army like Bruce Willis in 'Die Hard'."