50 members of Belgian military linked to extremist groups

first_imgBelgian military intelligence is tracking 50 people with ties to extremist groups within the country’s armed forces, according to the defense ministry, confirming Belgian media reports.Het Belang van Limburg and Knack magazine reported Wednesday that four military members belonged to the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right vigilante group founded in Finland in 2015.A defense ministry spokeswoman said Thursday that one of the four had already decided to leave the group, after superiors initiated a conversation about their membership. The Belgian government has full confidence that those military members linked to extremist organizations were under sufficient scrutiny, Mortier added. Also On POLITICO Belgian army investigates soldier with Christmas shopping bag By Vince Chadwick Police deny Brussels lockdown orgy claims By Cynthia Kroet The spokeswoman said all military personnel were subject to regular background checks and those with links to extremist groups were monitored by military intelligence and could have their security clearance downgraded.The precise details of what constitute an extremist group are classified, but can include neo-Nazi organizations, motorcycle gangs such as the Hell’s Angels, or religious extremists.“Not the regular soccer club,” the spokeswoman said.Citing privacy laws, she declined to comment on what branch of the military the three remaining Soldiers of Odin members belonged to, as well as whether their security clearance had been lowered.The Soldiers of Odin have opened branches in other countries, including Sweden and Norway, and conduct street patrols to protect the native population against immigrants.Laurence Mortier, spokeswoman for Defense Minister Steven Vandeput, said authorities could not dismiss military members on account of their association with such groups, provided the organizations were legal.last_img

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