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Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Belgian terror row claims official
Belgian police check for explosives in Brussels
No replacement for Timmermans has been announced
Belgium's head of national security has abruptly resigned over allegations that the country was a training ground for Islamic extremists linked to Osama bin Laden.

Godelieve Timmermans, the first woman to head a Belgian security agency, said she could no longer carry out her work effectively because of "a climate of mistrust" in her office.


We must improve the sharing of information...

Belgian MP Jean-Claude Delepiere

A parliamentary report leaked to the media blamed the national security agency for failing to combat Islamic extremism and prevent the recruitment of activists.

Members of north African extremist groups allegedly received military training in Belgium's Ardennes forest, according to the report.

Ms Timmermans said she regretted the report had been made public and also accused the government of underfunding the agency.

Her replacement, whose name has not been announced, is due to take over on 1 August.

Intelligence failure

Like other European nations, Belgium has played an unwitting role in hosting extremist cells hiding among the country's large Islamic immigrant community.

Since 11 September, there has been much soul-searching in the country over the work of the security services and whether they could have done more to prevent the establishment of militant training cells on Belgian soil.

The debate has focused on the transmission of information and its correct assessment by the services.

"We must improve the sharing of information, its understanding and its perception by the authorities," said Jean-Claude Delepiere, head of a parliamentary committee overlooking the country's secret services.

He said that even the US, with all the resources at its disposal, was having problems in this field.


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22 Sep 01 | Europe
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