Daniel Koehler, a German de-radicalization expert whom I caught on the phone after he had just finished a training session with the Dutch police, has set up various programs in Germany, Canada, and the United States to work with families and local police structures to spot signs of radicalization early and reverse them. “In the last two years, many countries have introduced family counseling,” Koehler told me, referring to the kind of family counseling he works on: getting the family involved in pulling their kids out of the world of radicalism and in rebuilding the social networks that radicalization strips people of, replacing it with allegiance to the Islamic State. “Compared with the other field, which is repression and punishment, it is always a very small part of the budget.” But even that is better than the situation in Belgium.
“Belgium is the last European country,” says Koehler. “They’re very late. They’re discussing it, but it’s still in the discussion phase.” He told me that when he travels to conferences that deal with this long-term, preventative approach, “Belgium rarely presents at these conferences. Sometimes, they’re simply not interested and not connected to the international debate.”