Federal law enforcement officials are on the ground in Brussels, the White House confirmed Thursday, according to Politico.
“Belgium has accepted our assistance,” White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters at a news conference, after the Obama administration offered assistance to Belgian authorities following last week’s terrorist attacks that killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds more.
“We have FBI teams on the ground assisting with the investigation. We are sharing information and intelligence with Belgium as it relates to terrorist threats,” Rhodes added.
He said that Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon will meet with Attorney General Loretta Lynch during the Nuclear Security Summit, a two-day event in Washington that kicked off Thursday, to discuss U.S. cooperation with Belgium.
President Barack Obama is expected to discuss the effort to combat the Islamic State (ISIS), which claimed the Brussels bombings, with foreign leaders on Friday.
“I would expect this to be a major focus of the discussion that the leaders are going to have tomorrow about the counter-ISIL campaign,” said Rhodes, according to Politico, adding that the U.S. has made “good progress” in intensifying airstrikes and pressure on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and providing equipment to ground forces.
“We also believe it’s critically important that we’re working to disrupt plots, given ISIL’s effort to move to more external plotting in Europe and other parts of the world,” he said, using an alternative acronym for ISIS and citing discourse on information sharing and aligning procedures to track foreign fighters who may be leaving Iraq and Syria as key points of emphasis.
“This is really one of the principal purposes of having a counter-ISIL discussion here tomorrow, not just to review the offensive campaign against ISIL but also to review how we can better disrupt plots through collaboration.”
News of the FBI’s assistance in the investigation follow reports last week that two brothers who carried out the attacks were known to American government agencies before the attacks and were both on United States government counter-terrorism watch lists.
In fact, the Dutch interior minister said on Tuesday that the FBI had told Dutch police that the two were being sought by Belgian authorities a week before the pair blew themselves up in Brussels.
Other reports have indicated that Belgium received advanced warnings of the terrorist attacks but did not act on those warnings.