Amsterdam, Jan 25 (IANS) The new European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC), officially launched on Monday in Amsterdam, will focus on fighting foreign fighters, sharing intelligence and expertise on terrorism financing, online terrorist propaganda and illegal arms trafficking, Europol announced.
“Our ambition is for the ECTC to become a central information hub in the fight against terrorism in the EU, providing analysis for ongoing investigations and contributing to a coordinated reaction in the events of major terrorist attacks,” said Rob Wainwright, director of Europol.
The ECTC will be led by Manuel Navarrete Paniagua, a high ranking officer of the Spanish Guardia Civil who is already head of the counter terrorism unit at Europol.
Between 40 to 50 experts on terrorism work in the ECTC, said Wainwright.
The new ECTC has been set up within the current organisational structure of Europol that is already playing an important part in the European response to terrorist threats, he added.
“After the Paris attacks, Europol assigned up to 60 officers to support the French and Belgian investigation in Taskforce Fraternite. Up to now, significant quantity of information has been received from these two countries, resulting in 800 intelligence leads and more than 1,600 leads on suspicious financial transactions,” he added.
The launching ceremony took place during the informal meeting of the EU’s Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs. The Netherlands now holds the six-month presidency of the EU.