Czech Republic: ‘Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats’ set up to fight ‘Fake News’

“The key goal of Russian propaganda in the Czech Republic is to sow doubts into the minds of the people that democracy is the best system to organise a country, to build negative images of the European Union and Nato, and [to] discourage people from participation in the democratic processes.”

Tomáš Prouza — Czech government’s state secretary for European affairs

CzBis_logo

The Security Information Service (BIS) (Czech: Bezpečnostní informační služba), is the primary domestic national intelligence agency of the Czech Republic. The Latin motto “Audi, vide, tace”, reminds people that an intelligence service member has to be a good listener, keen observer, and must keep silent .

The Czech government fears Russian interference in the upcoming general election. A new specialized unit — The Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats  — will report on ‘Fake News’.

Government officials suspect that Moscow is running 40 Czech-language websites presenting false stories, mostly about immigrants, in order to influence the next election, scheduled in October 2017. The new agency will of course pay close attention to the French and German elections.

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Quick Analysis

First, let us point out that these officials (unlike US agencies) admit that there is no hard evidence of Moscow running these websites.

Secondly, one must be a bit carefull before labeling the stories about immigrants as “Fake news”. The 2015 BIS annual Report makes it clear that the massive immigration is causing a “clear and present danger” to the country.

RELATED POST: CZECH REPUBLIC INTELLIGENCE AGENCY : ANNUAL REPORT 2015

“Since the second quarter of 2014, Europe has been facing a large migration wave from the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and Maghreb. In 2015, more than a million refugees arrived in Europe. Their arrival had a negative impact on public order and on security and administrative procedures both in countries along the main migration routes and in destination countries. The Czech Republic is located in a heavily transited area of Central Europe and is faced by the same migration threats as France, Belgium and Germany.”

Thirdly, the anticipated result of the election is NOT in favour of the current prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka‘s Social Democrats. ANO, the populist party led by the wealthy Euro-sceptic businessman, Andrej Babis, is widely considered the favourite to emerge as the biggest party.  (Does that ring a bell?)

The Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats 

When? The unit  will start operating on 1 January 2017.

What will the Centre do? It will essentially be a specialised analytical and communications unit. Given the competencies of the Ministry of the Interior, the Centre will monitor threats directly related to internal security, which implies a broad array of threats and potential incidents relative to terrorism, soft target attacks, security aspects of migration, extremism, public gatherings, violation of public order and different crimes, but also disinformation campaigns related to internal security.

Who are they? 20 full-time specialists. (The unit is part of the Interior Ministry.)

Where will they work? Prague. They will be based in the building that was used as an interrogation centre by the former communist regime’s secret police during the cold war, when the former Czechoslovakia was a close ally of the Soviet Union.

Why is it at the Ministry of the Interior? This is because questions pertaining to internal security, regardless of the methods and the context in which they occur, legally fall within the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior. Therefore in legal terms, there is no difference between classical nation-wide threats (such as political terrorism) and threats that fall within the context of current hybrid campaigns (such as soft target terrorist attacks coupled with Islamist propaganda spread via social media).

REFERENCES

Czech Republic to fight ‘fake news’ with specialist unit — The Guardian

Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats — Official Website

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