wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09BRUSSELS679 2009-05-13 13:16:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Brussels
Cable title:  

GOB STILL WILLING TO CONSIDER RESETTLING

Tags:   PTER PREL PGOV BE AF 
pdf how-to read a cable


1. (C) Summary: Belgium remains supportive of U.S. efforts to
resettle Guantanamo detainees and is willing to consider
specific proposals for resettlement, according to the Prime
Minister's diplomatic advisor Dirk Wouters. Wouters
discounted comments by Alain Winants, Belgium's head of State
Security, that Belgium and other countries should "think
carefully" before taking on detainees for resettlement.
Winants told a Reuters reporter that he is concerned that
detainees from Guantanamo would have an inordinate influence
on other Muslims living in Europe, and added that it is
increasingly difficult for European security services to
track and count militants, who avoid meeting in public places
such as mosques. Winants subsequently told Charge that he
had intended to send no political message by his comment and
that he would work with European counterparts on effective
information sharing concerning released detainees. We should
continue to vigorously engage the Belgians on issues related
to closure of Guantanamo. End Summary.



2. (U) Reuters news agency published an interview with Alain
Winants, administrator general of the Belgian state security
service on May 11. In the interview, Winants is quoted as
urging countries to think carefully about agreeing to take in
prisoners from the U.S. detainment camp at Guantanamo.
Winants is concerned that detainees from Guantanamo could
have an "aura" about them that would give them a big
influence among radical Islamists in Belgium and other
European countries. Another such person, cited by Winants,
is Malika El-Aroud, who has lived many years in Belgium and
was a radical firebrand on the Internet. El-Aroud was
arrested in December and is being held on suspicion of links
to Al Q'aida terrorist activities. Winants said that he is
worried about radicals using Pakistan as a base for training
and then returning to Belgium. He claimed it is becoming
increasingly difficult for the GOB to track and count such
militants, because they now meet in homes rather than in
mosques.



3. (C) On May 12, Charge spoke to Dirk Wouters, Diplomatic
Advisor to Prime Minister Van Rompuy. Wouters said that
relevant Belgian cabinet members had discussed the Guantanamo
detainee issue on May 11. He said that Belgian policy has
not changed regarding the possibility of receiving detainees,
that Belgium is open to working with the U.S. on this matter,
and is ready to review and consider specific requests. He
said that Prime Minister Van Rompuy and the Foreign Ministry
both support assisting the United States, and that he would
look for ways to correct any damage done by Winants' public
statements. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is preparing a
report for the cabinet on potential difficulties in accepting
detainees and ways to overcome them, Wouters said. In a
separate conversation on May 12, Francesca Bostyn, Security
Advisor to the Prime Minister, told an Embassy political
officer that a working group is examining current Belgian
legislation to determine what legal status a Guantanamo
detainee might have in Belgium, including what restrictions
could be put on freedom of movement and associations. She
said that resettling detainees is a political decision and
Winants' statements are not reflective of policy.



3. (C) After he spoke to Wouters, Charge talked directly to
Winants. Winant said that what Reuters reported was a brief
aside in an hour-long interview on radicalization, and was
not intended as a political message. He said that two
Guantanamo detainees previously released to Belgium, who are
Belgian citizens, travel a lot, talk to others, and attract
the interest of others, especially young people, by virtue of
their experience in Guantanamo. He said that effective
information sharing among Schengen countries on released
detainees would be important given freedom of movement within
the Schengen zone. Winants intends to work with other
services in Europe to tackle problems, and he added that "it
is not my intention to make difficulties."



4. (C) Comment: So far only Winants' comments on Guantanamo
have been reported by Reuters. Despite his demurral, his
comments do set him up in opposition to government policy as
it has been stated to us by Prime Minister Van Rompuy in his
May 5 meeting with the Charge (ref A), Wouters on May 12 and
by Foreign Ministry and Interior Ministry officials who met
with S/WCI Ambassador Williamson in February (ref B). While
the comments may be a play for more resources for the state
security, they probably also emanate from apprehension about
increasing the population of radical Islamists in Belgium.
Winants has given voice to doubts that exist among the

BRUSSELS 00000679 002 OF 002


Belgian public and even in the minds of the officials who
clearly are disposed to be cooperative. It will be helpful
to reassure the GOB, and when possible and appropriate the
Belgian public, that the detainees offered by the United
States will be low-risk and few in number. This report
should not deter us from engaging vigorously with the
Belgians on military detainees as soon as we are ready to do
so.

BUSH
.