Connecting the dots

The Common Database (CDB)

CUTA is the operational manager of the CDB, the tool that puts the multidisciplinary approach of Plan R into practice. It was set up in 2016, after hundreds of Belgians left for Syria and Iraq to join the terrorist group Islamic State. The CDB was one of the government’s measures to strengthen the fight against terrorism and extremism.

The CDB: What?

The CDB is an instrument for real-time information sharing, in which all the services involved can continuously exchange unclassified information about individuals and organisations that need to be monitored as a matter of priority in the context of terrorism and extremism, including the radicalisation process.

The CDB: Who sees what?

Access to the CDB is determined on the basis of subsidiarity and proportionality and, above all, on the basis of the need-to-know principle. Each service can only see what it needs to see to do its job. Some services can only consult the CDB, others also have to supply it with information. A third type of access is the hit/no-hit system, where services can only see if an entity is included in the CDB. This last access is indirect, with services having to contact CUTA for information.  All accesses are strictly legally regulated.

The categories in the CDB

The CDB contains five categories. Before a person is listed in the CDB within one of these categories, strict criteria must be fulfilled. The common denominator of all these individuals are extremism and (the intention of) violence. All of them have to have a solid link with Belgium. If one of the criteria, laid down by law, is no longer met, that person will be deleted from the CDB .

  • Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs): persons who have travelled to a conflict zone in order to join a terrorist group or have returned from a terrorist conflict zone, who have been prevented of leaving or who intended to leave (included since the CDB was set up in 2016);
  • Homegrown Terrorist Fighters (HTFs): persons who do not intend to travel to a terrorist organisation abroad. They choose to commit or support terrorist acts here (added on the basis of the Royal Decree of 23/04/2018);
  • Hate propagandists (HPs):  persons who want to justify the use of violence for ideological purposes. With their influence, they aim to radicalise their environment and undermine the rule of law (added on the basis of the Royal Decree of 23/04/2018);
  • Potentially Violent Extremists (PVEs): persons with extremist sympathies who intend to convert these  into actions through violence, but who have not yet taken concrete steps to do so (added on the basis of the Royal Decree of 20/12/2019);
  • Persons Convicted of Terrorism (PCTs): persons who are convicted of terrorism, interned or placed under specific protective measures for terrorism in Belgium or abroad (added on the basis of the Royal Decree of 20/12/2019).