On 17 June VDD organized the meeting of Counterterrorism Centre expert advisory council during which VDD’s counterterrorism experts together with experts from other fields discussed the latest terrorism threat trends in Europe and Latvia as well as the activities which have been carried out in the counterterrorism field in the first half-year of 2022 and the priorities for the next period.
The issues that were discussed included an analysis of the terrorism threat trends in Europe, a general assessment of the terrorism threats in Latvia, factors contributing to radicalization and polarization of society, as well as action by the responsible services to prevent radicalization risks and the online distribution of terrorist content.1 At the same time, the counterterrorism prevention and response measures as well as the work regarding terrorism risk objects implemented by VDD were analysed.2
During the meeting the general situation of terrorism threats in Europe was analysed, it was concluded that in several European regions the terrorism threats remain elevated or high, while in the Baltic region the terrorism threats are low. Assessing the general situation of terrorism threats in Latvia, the most significant security risks in the first half of this year were caused by tensions in the society and polarization after the Russian Federation’s invasion into Ukraine. At the same time, those who support a radical interpretation of Islam and show increased interest in the propaganda materials of international terrorist organizations are still in the attention of VDD.
The participants of the meeting were also given a broader insight into the measures taken by VDD to improve prevention and response measures, as well as cooperation with terrorism risk objects. Current changes in the Law on the Safety of Public Entertainment and Festivity Events were also presented, which defines high-risk events, obliging event organizers to develop an event safety plan and to coordinate it with the State Police, State Fire and Rescue Service, State Border Guard (if the event takes place at the border area) as well as VDD.
The participants were also introduced to the most important findings about the national-level counterterrorism exercise "Liedags 2022" organized by VDD at the end of May this year. In the framework of the exercise, a situation where a terrorist attack at a mass gathering place in Liepaja takes place was played out, thereby testing the readiness of institutions to act in accordance with the counterterrorism plan "Crowd"3 developed by VDD and approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on September 7, 2021.
VDD also continued to improve the Aircraft passenger data register in order to be able to establish and prevent terrorism crimes or other serious crimes by using the collected data about flights and their passengers. During the Covid-19 pandemic the register was useful also for establishing the contact persons of those who had been infected with Covid-19 virus and limiting the spread of it. Last year VDD submitted for approval amendments to the Aircraft Passenger Data Processing Law4, which provides for the possibility of investigating authorities and other institutions to request and receive passenger data under an accelerated procedure in special cases.
VDD Counterterrorism Centre expert advisory council is the coordinating and consulting institution whose aim is to improve the cooperation of VDD and state and municipal institutions within the counterterrorism field in order to ensure the preparedness to effectively prevent terrorism threats and to eliminate their consequences. The representatives of the following institutions take part in the advisory council: Constitution Protection Bureau, Defence Intelligence and Security Service, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prosecutor General’s Office, Financial Intelligence Unit, National Armed Forces, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, Financial and Capital Market Commission.
Information prepared by VDD
Illustrative photo, Freepik
1 Regulation (EU) 2021/784 of the European Parliament and of the Council on addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online (TCO regulation).
2 Critical infrastructure objects and mass gathering places are considered to be terrorism threat objects.
3 Cabinet of Ministers Order of 7 September 2021 No. 639 "Action Plan in the Event of Terrorist Attacks"(Counterterrorism Plan "Crowd").
4 Amendments to the Aircraft Passenger Data Processing Law entered into force on February 17, 2022.