About meeting of VDD’s Counterterrorism Centre expert advisory council

On 6 December 2019 the meeting of expert advisory council of VDD’s Counterterrorism Centre was held, in which counterterrorism experts and representatives from various fields had discussions about the most topical issues connected with the terrorism threat tendencies in Europe and in Latvia as well as about the readiness of the national counterterrorism system to prevent and overcome terrorism threats.

During the meeting VDD counterterrorism experts introduced representatives of other institutions with what has been achieved in the counterterrorism field in 2019. This year VDD, together with other services and institutions involved in the counterterrorism activities, has revised the National Counterterrorism Plan and its project is now submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers.

In order to train the reaction capabilities of institutions engaged in the counterterrorism activities VDD continued to organize counterterrorism exercises also in 2019. On 5 December 2019 VDD held the annual National Counterterrorism Plan implementation table-top exercise "Code Red 2019" with the aim to test and improve the reaction capabilities and cooperation of institutions engaged in the national counterterrorism system in case when the information about possible terrorism threats is obtained. Whereas in order to strengthen the reaction capabilities in case of a terror act on 30 May 2019 VDD organized the counterterrorism exercise "Pūlis 2019" which was based on a scenario of vehicle ramming into crowd of people, followed by a hostage crisis.

In 2019 VDD also implemented a number of measures in order to improve the security of terrorism risk objects – critical infrastructure and mass gathering sites, by coordinating the development of object security procedures, inspecting the objects and giving recommendations for improving the security regime.

One of the main priorities for VDD in the counterterrorism field in 2019 was the prevention of radicalization risks and facilitation of the activities of the inter-institutional working group "Prevent". The aim of the inter-institutional working group, which is led and established by VDD, is to coordinate the radicalization prevention activities on national level. The working group gathers experts from Ministry of Welfare, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Health, the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, State Emergency Medical Service, State Police, State Border Guard, Prison Service, Riga Municipality Police and State Probation Service.

Taking into account the terrorism threat tendencies in Europe, this year VDD especially focused on the security in various public events.

During the council’s meeting on 6 December discussions were also held about the accomplished goals connected with the prevention of terrorism financing. The participants discussed the next measures that have to be taken in order to diminish the risks of terrorism financing. Particular attention was paid to a more effective identification of terrorism financing indications and carrying out of appropriate checks. All representatives agreed that the basic principles and directions of activity, which were included in the 2019-2021 terrorism financing prevention strategy prepared by VDD and which correspond to the recommendations of Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism of the Council of Europe "Moneyval" and Financial Action Task Force, help to create a unified understanding among the institutions involved in combatting of terrorism of the necessary measures for diminishing the terrorism financing risks. In order to improve the cooperation and coordination between the responsible institutions during the investigation of terrorism and proliferation cases, the advisory council supported VDD’s suggestion about establishing the Terrorism financing investigation working group. The group will be led by VDD and representatives of Financial Intelligence Unit of Latvia, Prosecutor General’s Office, State Revenue Service and State Police will participate in it.

The advisory council is a consultative and coordinating institution and its goal is to enhance and develop the cooperation among VDD and other state and municipal authorities in the counterterrorism field in order to secure the state’s preparedness to effectively prevent terrorism threats and remedy their consequences. The advisory council was established in 2006 and it holds meeting at least once in every six months. The Advisory Council consists of representatives from the Constitution Protection Bureau, Defense Intelligence and Security Service, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prosecutor General’s Office, Financial Intelligence Unit of Latvia, Latvian National Armed Forces, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and the Financial and Capital Market Commission.

Information was prepared by VDD