Belgium Terror Attack Mirrors an All Too Familiar Pattern

by Patrick Dunleavy
IPT News
May 31, 2018

Watching summer reruns on TV can be entertaining. Watching reoccurring patterns in Islamic terrorist attacks is not. The latest terror attack in the European Union occurred Tuesday in Liege, Belgium, and appears to follow an all too familiar pattern.

A petty criminal, radicalized in prison and released prematurely, carries out a deadly attack on law enforcement officers and civilians shouting “Allah Akbar” before he is brought down by a hail of bullets.

Benjamin Herman was a career criminal on a temporary release program from prison. Hours after being released, he stabbed two Liege police officers and then executed them in cold blood with their own service weapons. Herman also shot and killed Cyril Vangriecken, a 22-year-old school custodian. He is suspected of having murdered a fourth individual, Michael Wilmet, a former prison cellmate, prior to the attack on the police officers.

Reports indicate he converted to Islam while in prison, where he had spent most of the past 15 years, for drug, assault and theft convictions, and interacted with extremist inmates.

Whether the source of radicalization in prison was literature, an incarcerated terrorist, or an unvetted chaplain or religious volunteer, the outcome is the same. More than a decade ago, I was able to review reports by two U.S. intelligence agencies which examined the radicalization process. They noted that radical Islamic ideology offers an inmate predisposed to violence with a “convenient outlet” for his violent tendencies. It gives him a sense of pseudo-legitimacy for attacking others in the name of Allah. For those people, conversion may be for opportunistic rather than idealistic reasons.

Herman reportedly belonged “to the entourage of an Islamist recruiter,” a source close to the investigation told AFP. Police found a Quran and prayer mat in his cell.

Prison officials also say they placed him on list of radicalized prisoners. It is unclear whether this information was shared with the law enforcement or counter terrorism community.

We do know that Belgium officials have long acknowledged the connection between prison radicalization and recent terror attacks in the EU.

For example, Abdelhamid Abaaoud was a former Belgian inmate who mastermindedthe 2015 Paris terror attacks that left 130 dead and more than 400 wounded.

Belgian brothers Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui, two of the suicide bombers who blew up a train station and an airport terminal in Brussels in 2016, had also spent time in Belgian prisons for the violent crimes of carjacking and armed robbery.

The list of recent terror cases involving ex-cons continues to grow and includes cities like BarcelonaBerlinCopenhagenLondonParis, and yes, here in the United Statesas well.

The danger posed by prison radicalization is often misunderstood. It is not, as some would imagine, a thousand inmates in the yard at Attica screaming jihad.

The real threat posed by prison radicalization lies beyond the walls.

“Prison radicalization does not mean that terrorist plots are being routinely hatched in prison (although this has occasionally happened),” Quilliam Foundation senior research fellow James Brandon wrote in 2009. “More often, however, it leads to inmates adopting Islamist ideologies that may ultimately lead to terrorism after their release.”

U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., was vilified and accused of bias when he first proposed hearings on the possible threat of Islamic radicalization in the prison system,. Certain Islamic clergy went so far as to claim that prison radicalization was a “myth.”

Ironically, seven years after the hearings, Rep. King’s concerns have been validated by the numerous terror plots carried out by people who, while incarcerated, were converted to a radical Islamic ideology that promoted violent acts against innocent citizens both here, in the EU, and the UK.

Unfortunately, just knowing the threat exists does not prevent it. Decisive action must be taken before the violent acts are carried out. Removing the radicalizing elements from the prison system is the first step. That includes jihadi literature and some religious volunteers. Corrections officials, law enforcement and intelligence agencies must do a better job sharing information on radicalized inmates. A strict post-release program that monitors convicted terrorists also is necessary, because most terrorists eventually are set free.

In less than a year, John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban, will be a free man. And there is a good chance that radical Islamic clergyman Anjem Choudary, convicted of providing material support to ISIS, will walk out of jail soon, despite receiving a 5½ year sentence in a UK prison in 2016.

Failure to take the necessary actions to monitor these radicals, and to try to identify and isolate other inmates from their radical mentors will only increase the threat of additional terror attacks involving radicalized ex-cons in the near future.

When it comes to combating radical Islamic terrorism we cannot sit for another season of reruns.

IPT Senior Fellow Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections and author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad. He currently teaches a class on terrorism for the United States Military Special Operations School.

Katie Hopkins is Being Sued by Mayor of Jihadi Capital of Europe for telling the truth

A Belgian mayor is suing me for the crime of journalism, The Rebel, by Katie Hopkins, May 18, 2018:

Last week I went to Molenbeek, a Muslim no-go zone in Brussels, Belgium. It’s the most terrorist-infested neighbourhood in all of Europe.

Even its mayor, Francoise Schepmans, describes Molenbeek as a “breeding ground for violence.”

Countless terrorist attacks around the world have been plotted from there. Including the horrific attack on Paris in November, 2015, that killed 130 people and wounded more than 400. And after the Paris attacks, the orchestrator of the slaughter went back to Molenbeek to hide. In fact, it wasn’t until four months later that one of the Paris terrorists, Salah Abdeslam, was finally captured. The people of Molenbeek kept him hidden from police for that long.

Here’s the thing: when I was in Molenbeek, I literally bumped into Mayor Schepmans in the street. She approached me and told me not to sit on the benches because they were filthy. So I asked her a simple question: why didn’t you do anything?

After all, she knew. A month before the Paris attack, Mayor Schepmans was given a list of jihadists plotting in Molenbeek. And Salah Abdeslam’s name was on the list.

I asked her why she didn’t have police arrest him. And she told me: it wasn’t her job.

Well, that video went viral. And so did my other videos from Molenbeek — including when I made a list of all 22 mosques in town; and when I put on a burka, to “fit in” with the submissive women there.

If you haven’t watched my videos yet, you can see them all, here.

Well, Mayor Schepmans watched my videos. And she has decided to finally do something about the problem of the jihadis in her town. She’s launching a public prosecution. But she’s not prosecuting any terrorists. That’s not her job, remember.

No: she’s suing me. For my reports — including for my interview with her! To her, my journalism is a bigger threat than terrorists using her town as a base camp.

So, I need your help. Mayor Schepmans has all of the resources of the city government at her disposal. She has government lawyers, and a multi-million dollar budget. I’m an independent journalist, working with The Rebel media. We’re 100% viewer-supported.

Can you please help me level the playing field? Can you help fill up my legal war chest, so I can keep standing on guard for our western values of freedom of speech, and the separation of mosque and state?

If you can help me with my legal bills, I promise I’ll keep fighting. If you think it’s important to be able to talk freely about terrorism, please help me and The Rebel cover my legal bills. You can click below to make a secure, online donation. Whether it’s $10, $100 or even $500, it all adds up.

SUPPORT Katie at http://www.SaveHopkins.com

(NOTE: To donate in British pounds instead, please click here. )

Let’s show this mayor we’re as passionate about freedom as she is about censorship.

***

Watch Katie’s interview with Tucker Carlson on May  11, 2018:

Belgium: First Islamic State in Europe?

Gatestone Institute, by Giulio Meotti, 

  • The leaders of Belgium’s ISLAM Party apparently want to turn Belgium into an Islamic State. They call it “Islamist democracy” and have set a target date: 2030.
  • “The program is confusingly simple: replace all the civil and penal codes with sharia law. Period”. — French magazine Causeur.
  • “The European capital [Brussels] will be Muslim in twenty years”. — Le Figaro.

The French acronym of Belgium’s ISLAM Party stands for “Integrity, Solidarity, Liberty, Authenticity, Morality”. The leaders of the ISLAM Party apparently want to turn Belgium into an Islamic State. They call it “Islamist democracy” and have set a target date: 2030.

According to the French magazine Causeur, “the program is confusingly simple: replace all the civil and penal codes with sharia law. Period”. Created on the eve of the 2012 municipal ballot, the ISLAM Party immediately received impressive results. Its numbers are alarming.

The effect of this new party, according to Michaël Privot, an expert on Islam, and Sebastien Boussois, a political scientist, could be the “implosion of the social body“. Some Belgian politicians, such as Richard Miller, are now advocating banning the ISLAM Party.

The French weekly magazine Le Point details the plans of the ISLAM Party: It would like to “prevent vice by banning gaming establishments (casinos, gaming halls and betting agencies) and the lottery”. Along with authorizing the wearing the Muslim headscarf at school and an agreement about the Islamic religious holidays, the party wants all schools in Belgium to offer halal meat on their school menus. Redouane Ahrouch, one of the party’s three founders, also proposed segregating men and women on public transport. Ahrouch belonged in the 1990s to the Belgian Islamic Center, a nest of Islamic fundamentalism where candidates for jihad in Afghanistan and Iraq were recruited.

The ISLAM Party knows that demography is on its side. Ahrouch has said, “in 12 years, Brussels will principally be composed of Muslims”. In the upcoming Belgian elections, the ISLAM Party is now set to run candidates in 28 municipalities. On first glance, that looks like a derisory proportion compared to 589 Belgian municipalities, but it demonstrates the progress and ambitions of this new party. In Brussels, the party will be represented on 14 lists out of a possible 19.

That is most likely why the Socialist Party now fears the rise of the ISLAM Party. In 2012, the party succeeded, when running in just three Brussels districts, in obtaining an elected representative in two of them (Molenbeek and Anderlecht), and failing only narrowly in Brussels-City.

Two years later, during the 2014 parliamentary elections, the ISLAM Party tried to expand its base in two constituencies, Brussels-City and Liège. Once again, the results were impressive for a party that favors the introduction of sharia, Islamic law, into Belgium. In Brussels, they won 9,421 votes (almost 2%).

This political movement apparently started in Molenbeek, “the Belgian radicals’ den“, a “hotbed of recruiters for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”. Jihadists there were apparently plotting terror attacks all over Europe and even in Afghanistan. The French author Éric Zemmour, facetiously suggested that instead of bombing Raqqa, Syria, France should “bomb Molenbeek“. At the moment in Molenbeek, 21 municipal officials out of 46 are Muslim.

Riot police guard a road in the Molenbeek district of Brussels, after raids in which several people, including Salah Abdeslam, one of the perpetrators of the November 2015 Paris attacks, were arrested on March 18, 2016. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

“The European capital,” wrote Le Figaro, “will be Muslim in twenty years”.

“Nearly a third of the population of Brussels already is Muslim, indicated Olivier Servais, a sociologist at the Catholic University of Louvain. “The practitioners of Islam, due to their high birth rate, should be the majority ‘in fifteen or twenty years’. Since 2001… Mohamed is the most common name given to boys born in Brussels”.

The ISLAM Party is working in a favorable environment. According to the mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur, all the mosques in the European capital are now “in the hands of the Salafists“. A few weeks ago, the Belgian government terminated the long-term lease of the country’s largest and oldest mosque, the Grand Mosque of Brussels, to the Saudi royal family, “as part of what officials say is an effort to combat radicalization”. Officials said that the mosque, was a “hotbed for extremism“.

confidential report last year revealed that the police had uncovered 51 organizations in Molenbeek with suspected ties to jihadism.

Perhaps it is time for sleepy Belgium to begin to wake up?

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.

Antwerp Terror Arrests Underscore Growing Threat to Europe and America

Belgium mapby Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
June 1, 2016

Last Wednesday, just two years and a day after the deadly terrorist attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, and barely more than two months after the twin attacks on the Brussels airport and metro, Belgian police arrested a group of Muslim youth planning yet another attack, this time in Antwerp. Aiming “to kill as many kufar,” or non-Muslims, as possible, the group is believed to have been planning to bomb Antwerp’s Central Station. The group also is believed to have made previous plans to assassinate right-wing politician Filip Dewinter, the leader of the Vlaams Belang party. Those plans were put on hold, however, in favor of a larger-scale attack.

The suspects were members of a group of radicalized Muslim teens believed to have kept contact with Antwerp native Hicham Chaib, who is now a high-ranking leader of the Islamic State. It was Chaib who informed the public that the March 22 attacks on Belgium’s Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station “were just a taste of what’s to come.” And it is Chaib, the former second-in-command of Shariah4Belgium who left Antwerp for Syria in 2012, who now actively recruits other Antwerp-based youth to join ISIS or to execute terrorist attacks in their homeland.

The four arrests followed a series of raids by Antwerp police into the homes of several suspects in the Borgerhout district. Two suspects have been released, but other members of the group, some arrested previously, remain in custody. All suspects are said to be between the ages of 16 and 19, confirming earlier Dutch reports that European Muslims under the age of 20 are increasingly becoming involved in Islamic State activities and jihadist plots.

According to some accounts, the Antwerp group is comprised of nine youths, at least five of whom are minors. At least two members tried to join the Islamic State in Raqqa in March, but were stopped by officials en route and sent back to Belgium.

With security and counter-terror investigations heightened in Brussels after the March 22 attacks there, it is unsurprising that jihadists might be moving their activities and focus to nearby Antwerp. The city has a long history of Muslim unrest, with riots as early as 2002 and the founding, by Hizballah-linked Lebanese immigrant Dyab Abou Jahjah, of the Arab European League (AEL) in 2000. An organization with pan-Arab aspirations, the AEL aimed to create what Jahjah called a “sharocracy” – a kind of combination of democracy and sharia – that would eventually become European law.

More recently, Antwerp native Fouad Belkacem founded the notorious Sharia4Belgium, alleged to have organized most of the recruiting for ISIS in Belgium, with some outreach to neighboring countries such as France and The Netherlands. And, of the estimated 500 Belgian Muslims who have joined terrorist groups in Syria, more than 100 come from Antwerp.

But the indication of heightened new activity in Antwerp also suggests possible changes in strategy for Europe-based jihadists and recruiters. While French-speaking Brussels maintains close ties to France (several of the terrorists involved in the two attacks in Paris last year were based or were born in Brussels), Flemish-speaking Antwerp holds a stronger relationship to The Nethrlands. Antwerp is also a mere 30 minutes from Rotterdam by high-speed train, offering easy access to Europe’s largest and busiest port. The Rotterdam Port is also the launching point for the vast majority of European exports to America, Europe’s largest external trading partner.

This matters. According to the National Institute of Justice, “Few would dispute that, if terrorists used a cargo container to conceal a weapon of mass destruction and detonated it on arrival at a U.S. port, the impact on global trade and the world economy could be immediate and devastating.” And the New York Times further observed, “The cargo containers arriving on ships from foreign ports offer terrorists a Trojan horse for a devastating attack on the United States. As the Harvard political scientist Graham T. Allison has put it, a nuclear attack is ‘far more likely to arrive in a cargo container than on the tip of a missile.'”

The good news, however, is that The Netherlands’ intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies are well-recognized for their research, acuity, and effectiveness. And Rotterdam takes an especially hard line on Islamic extremism: its Essalam Mosque, Holland’s largest, served as the site for anti-extremist protests. Last year, the mosquedismissed all foreign Arabs from its board of directors. And following the January 2015 attacks in Paris, Ahmed Aboutaleb, Rotterdam’s Muslim mayor, famously invited any Dutch Muslim wishing to join the jihad in Syria to make the trip and never try to return. More, his fierce response to youth who dislike Dutch values was even more direct: he told them to “f*** off.”

Perhaps, then, even as these latest arrests demonstrate just how much Europe’s radical Muslim problem threatens to become America’s radical Muslim problem, we should consider making some of Europe’s more radical solutions America’s solutions, too.

Abigail R. Esman is an award-winning freelance writer based in New York and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with more than 20 years of experience writing for national and international magazines including Salon.com, Vogue, Esquire (Holland), Town & Country, Art & Auction (where she is a contributing editor), The Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, Artnews and others.

Phone Seminar with Steve Emerson: “After Brussels Terror Attack: Is the U.S. Next?”

Published on Apr 27, 2016 by emetonline

On March 22, 2016 Belgium was struck by three simultaneous terror attacks at its airport and subway system, killing 31 people and injuring more than 180. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks. Saleh Abdeslam, one of the prime suspects of November’s horrific attacks in Paris, was arrested in Molenbeek, an inner-city suburb of Belgium, and the district where at least three of the Paris attackers grew up. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Tuesday, “What we feared has happened. We were hit by blind attacks.” Abdeslam is alleged to have taken part in November’s terror attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people. In December, Islamic terrorists in San Bernardino, California, killed 14 people; the deadliest terror attack on US soil since 9/11.

What lessons should the United States learn from the attack in Brussels? What is the current terrorist threat to our homeland, and what steps need to be taken to combat the rise of radical Islam in the US? Please join us for a phone seminar with terrorism expert Steve Emerson as he explores these critical issues.

How Radicalization Was Allowed to Fester in Belgium

belgiumby Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
April 19, 2016

These are the numbers, the hard facts: Twenty months. Three terrorist attacks. One hundred seventy dead. And almost all the killers grew up in or at one time lived in Belgium.

Squeezed into a corner bounded by France, Germany and the Netherlands, tiny Belgium has produced more jihadists than any other Western country (relative to its population) since 9/11. The most recent attacks, at the Brussels Maalbeek metro station and Zaventem Airport on March 22, killed at least 32 people and wounded dozens more. On Nov. 13, gunmen from the Brussels district of Molenbeek killed 130 men and women in Paris at a soccer stadium, a restaurant, and concert hall. And in May 2014, Mehdi Nemmouche, a returnee from Syria, shot and killed four people at the entrance to Brussels’ Jewish Museum. Since then, the media has been filled with reports on Belgium as a “new hotbed of terrorism,” while politicians have looked at one another blankly, asking “why?”

But the other hard fact is that there is nothing especially new about any of this. Belgium has been a center for Islamic terrorism for more than 20 years, most notably in the aftermath of a series of 1995 and 1998 bombings in France. Those attacks, which targeted, among others, the Paris Metro and the Arc de Triomphe, were committed by the Armed Islamic Group, or GIA, an Algerian militant group affiliated with al-Qaida, many of whose members lived in Belgium.

Indeed, most of the earlier Islamist terror attacks in Belgium and France were committed by Algerian GIA members, including Farid Melouk, who plotted, among other targets, to bomb the 1998 Paris World Cup. Sentenced to nine years in 1998 for his involvement in terrorism, Melouk is believed to have known and influenced Chérif Kouachi, one of the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris last January.

Only later, with the growth of al-Qaida after 9/11, did recruiters turn more to Moroccan immigrants like Abdelhamid Abbaoud, the mastermind of the Nov. 13 strikes, andKhalid Zerkani, believed to have served as a mentor to the current generation of Belgian jihadists.

But not all these 1990s jihadists were strictly GIA: in the aftermath of the 1995 Paris attacks, for instance, during a raid on the home of one Belgian GIA member, policediscovered among the weapons a “training manual,” dedicated to Osama bin Laden. There have also been reports of computer disks containing al-Qaida manuals found in Belgium around this time, but they remain unconfirmed.

But most notable is a report that Belgium repeatedly did little to combat the threat. Rather, according to journalist Paul Belien, Belgian authorities “made a deal with the GIA terrorists, agreeing to turn a blind eye to conspiracies hatched on Belgian soil in exchange for immunity from attack.”

If the deal was real, it did nothing to protect Belgian Muslims from radicalization. Those include converts like Muriel Degauque, who in 2005 earned the dubious distinction of being Belgium’s first female suicide bomber when she blew herself up in Baghdad, killing five.

Moreover, the radicalization of Belgian Muslims has become nearly a local institution, through national political groups like Sharia4Belgium and, previously, the Arab European League (AEL). Founded In 2000 by Lebanese immigrant Dyab Abou Jahjah, the AEL spread briefly beyond Belgium to France and the Netherlands before eventually petering out around 2006. But in its short life, it stirred pro-Islamist sentiment among many Belgian Muslim youth, helping to pave the way for Sharia4Belgium, and its recruiting of warriors for ISIS.

Alongside both of these movements has been the one-man operation of Khalid Zerkani, who is known to his followers as “The Santa Claus of jihad,” the New York Times reports. Zerkani, Belgian federal prosecutor Bernard Michel told the Times, “has perverted an entire generation of youngsters,” including various Molenbeek residents who were involved in the Zaventem killings, and Abdelhamid Abbaaoud, the Paris attack leader. Other Zerkani disciples have joined the Islamic State in Syria. On April 14, Zerkani, who was arrested in 2014, was sentenced to 15 years in Belgian prison for jihad recruiting. But – despite ongoing arrests in Molenbeek and other regions throughout Belgium – his influence, like that of Sharia4Belgium and the relics of Belgium’s terrorist past, continues to walk free on Europe’s streets.

Timeline of Jihadist Events in Belgium

1990s – Armed Islamic Group (GIA), an Algerian terrorist group, forms cells in Belgium and France.

1995

July 25 – GIA sets off bombs at the Saint-Michel station of Paris RER, killing eight and wounding 80

August 17 – bombs set by GIA at the Arc de Triomphe wound 17

August 26 – GIA bomb found on railroad tracks near Lyon

September 3– car bomb at Lyon Jewish school wounds 14

October 6– explosion in Paris Metro wounds 13

October 17– gas bottle explodes between Musee d’Orsay and Notre Dame stations of Paris metro, wounding 29

1998

March 6 – Belgian officials storm a Brussels residence, arresting Farid Melouk, suspected leader of Belgian GIA and organizer of Paris attacks.

Six other GIA operatives are also arrested, all linked to various Paris bombings.

March 22 – Belgian police uncover GIA plot to bomb the World Cup soccer event in France that June. During a raid in Brussels, police uncover explosives, detonators, Kalashnikovs, and thousands of dollars in cash. Again, Farid Melouk is believed to be associated.

May 26 – Police raid homes in Brussels and Charleroi based on evidence found in a GIA safe house in Brussels earlier. Ten people are detained.

1999

May 15 – Farid Melouk sentenced to nine years in Brussels court.

2000

February – Dyab Abou Jahjah establishes the Arab-European League in Antwerp, declaring that “assimilation is cultural rape,” and calling for Islamic schools, Arab-language education, and recognition of Islamic holidays. His goal is to create what he calls a “sharocracy” – a sharia-based democracy.

2001

September 11 – Al-Qaida hijackers plow commercial jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; a fourth jet, believed to be headed for the White House, is downed by passengers who overtake control. About 3,000 people are killed. The event marks a turning point for Muslim extremism and the rise of Muslim terrorism throughout the West.

September 13 – Nizar Trabelsi, a Tunisian, is arrested in Belgium and charged with plans to bomb a US-NATO military base.

September 30 – Sixteen additional suspects are also arrested in what prosecutors call a “spider’s web of radicals.”

2003

October 1 – Belgian courts convict 18 accused terrorists with suspected ties to al-Qaida, including Trabelsi, who receives a 10-year sentence.

2005

November 9 – Muriel Degauque, a Belgian convert, blows herself up in Baghdad near a group of policemen, killing five.

2009

December – After uncovering believable plans for an attack in Belgium, Antwerp police arrest 10 men, charging them with membership in a terrorist organization. Most members of the alleged terror cell are believed to live in Antwerp. Some are Dutch nationals.

2010

March – Fouad Belkacem establishes Sharia4Belgium.

November – Belgian officials arrest 10 members of a local terrorist cell suspected of planning attacks locally. Counterterrorism officials admit they are facing growing radicalization among the country’s Muslim youth, in part through the work of Sharia4Belgium, which seeks to transform Belgium into an Islamic state.

2012

September 15 – 230 radicalized Muslim members of Sharia4Belgium are arrested during anti-American riots in protest against the film “Innocence of Muslims.” In 2015, officials would discover that 70 of those arrested had joined the jihad in Syria. “The list [of those arrested then] reads today like a passenger list for the Syria-Express,” one investigator told Dutch TV program Een Vandaag.

2013

October 3 – Nizar Trabelsi, having served out his term in the 2001 bombing plot , is extradited to the United States. He is charged “with conspiracy to kill U.S Nationals outside of the United States; conspiracy and attempt to use weapons of mass destruction” and providing material support to terrorists.

2015

January 7-9 – In Paris, a rash of terrorist attacks take the lives of 17 people, including most of the staff of controversial satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and four Jews at a kosher market outside the city. Cherif Kouachi, responsible for the Charlie Hebdokillings, had had earlier contact with Farid Melouk. The attackers all claim to be sworn to the Islamic State.

November 13 – Further terrorist attacks in Paris – at the Stade de France stadium, Bataclan concert hall, and several restaurants – kill 130 people and injure more than 350. Most of the perpetrators come from (or have lived in) the Molenbeek region of Brussels, including suspected ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Abaaoud is also suspected of having been radicalized by Zerkani. ISIS claims responsibility.

November 14-early 2016 – ongoing arrests and investigations in Molenbeek lead to several additional arrests.

2016

March 15 – Police sweep down on a residence in Vorst, a section of Brussels, arresting four suspects believed to be planning an attack. A fifth, Algerian Mohamed Melkaid, is shot and killed while firing his Kalashnikov at the police. An ISIS flag is found at the scene.

March 18 – Saleh Abdeslam, the sole surviving member of the terrorist team that attacked Paris in November, is arrested in Molenbeek following a shootout. Evidence found in the house in Vorst helped lead them to Abdeslam, who had been in hiding for 120 days, mostly in plain sight in Molenbeek.

His arrest leads to riots among Muslim youth in the district.

March 22 – Coordinated attacks at Brussels-Zaventem airport and the Brussels Maarbeek metro stop kill 32. Two of the suicide bombers, brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, had been involved in planning the November Paris attacks; a third, Najim Laachraoui, is suspected as having made the bombs for both Paris and Brussels attacks. Laachraoui is also suspected of having had connections with Melkaid.

March 23-ongoing – Belgian and French police and counterterrorism forces continue to arrest terrorist suspects connected to either the Paris or Brussels attacks, all of them linked with Belgium-based terror cells. One suspect, Osama Krayem (aka Naim Hamed), a Swedish national, admits having backed out of plans to bomb a second metro station, and agrees to cooperate with Brussels police.

April 14 – Kahlid Zerkani receives the maximum 15-year sentence in Brussels courts. The sentence, delivered on appeal, is an increase over the previous sentence of 12 years.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

Europe: Suicide by Jihad

Gatestone Institute, by Guy Millière, April 16, 2016

  • In the last two decades, Belgium has become the hub of jihad in Europe. The district of Molenbeek in Brussels is now a foreign Islamist territory in the heart of Belgium. It is not, however, a lawless zone: sharia law has effectively replaced Belgian law.
  • One of the organizers of the Paris bombings, Salah Abdeslam, was able to live peacefully in Molenbeek for four months until police decided to arrest him. Belgian police knew exactly where he was, but did nothing until French authorities asked them to. After his arrest, he was treated as a petty criminal. Police did not ask him anything about the jihadist networks with which he worked. Officers who interrogated him were ordered to be gentle. The people who hid him were not indicted.
  • Europe’s leaders disseminated the idea that the West was guilty of oppressing Muslims. They therefore sowed the seeds of anti-Western resentment among Muslims in Europe.
  • Hoping to please followers of radical Islam and show them Europe could understand their “grievances,” they placed pressure on Israel. When Europeans were attacked, they did not understand why. They had done their best to please the Muslims. They had not even harassed the jihadists.

The March 22 jihadist attacks in Brussels were predictable. What is surprising is that they did not take place sooner. What is also surprising is that more people were not killed. It seems that the authors of the attacks had larger projects in mind; they wanted to attack a nuclear power plant. Others may succeed in doing just that.

In the last two decades, Belgium has become the hub of jihad in Europe. The district of Molenbeek in Brussels is now a foreign Islamist territory in the heart of Belgium. It is not, however, a lawless zone: sharia law has effectively replaced Belgian law. Almost all the women wear veils or burqas; those who do not take risks. Drug trafficking and radical mosques are everyplace. The police stay outside and intervene only in cases of extreme emergency, using military-like commando operations. Other areas of Belgium, such as Shaerbeek and Anderlecht have the same status as Molenbeek.

The Belgian authorities have allowed the situation to deteriorate. The situation in the country now is virtually equivalent to a surrender.

They seemed to hope that willful blindness and accepting the unacceptable would permit the country to be spared. It did not.

The attack on Belgium’s Jewish Museum on May 24, 2014 should have served as a warning. It did not. That “only” Jews were the target led the Belgian government to underestimate the threat. The jihadi who wanted to kill passengers on train from Amsterdam to Paris, on August 21, 2015,prepared his attack in Brussels. That three American heroes neutralized him before he could start shooting again led the Belgian government to think the danger was not large.

The jihadis who struck Paris on November 13, 2015 had also organized their attacks from Molenbeek, but the blood was not spilled in Belgium. Belgian authorities perhaps assumed that Belgium would be spared. They spoke of “imminent danger” for a day or so, but never increased security.

One of the organizers of the Paris bombings, Salah Abdeslam, Europe’s most wanted terrorist criminal, was able to live peacefully in Molenbeek for four months until police decided to arrest him. Belgian police knew exactly where he was, but did nothing until French authorities asked them to. After his arrest, he was treated as a petty criminal, not a jihadi terrorist. Police did not ask him anything concerning the jihadist networks with which he worked. Because he was hurt during police operations, officers who interrogated him were ordered to be gentle. The people who agreed to hide him for so long were not considered suspects and were not indicted.

The Brussels jihadist attacks took place two days later.

Despite the worst attacks on Belgium soil since World War II, Belgian authorities do not seem ready to change their behavior.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud (left), one of the planners of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, was — like many terrorists in Europe — from Molenbeek, Belgium. Philippe Moureaux (right) was mayor of Molenbeek for 20 years, thanks to his alliance with radical Islamists.

After the attacks, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel denounced “violent and cowardly acts” and stressed his “determination,” without saying what he intended to do. He did not speak of the necessity of changing the Belgian laws to make them more effective. He did not mention any enemy. He never used words such as “jihad” or “radical Islam.”

He behaved and talked as most of his European counterparts did. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls used more courageous words and said many times he is fighting “radical jihad” and “Islamism.” The French parliament passed laws allowing what is still impossible in Belgium:police searches at night. But France stands alone, and effectively the situation in France is no better than in Belgium. Islamist enclaves exists in many suburbs. Whole cities are controlled by thugs and radical imams: cities such as Roubaix, Trappes, Aubervilliers and Sevran in the northeast of Paris.

Islamist enclaves also exist in other European countries: Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, theUnited Kingdom and Sweden.

European leaders have been making choices. After World War II, they decided Europe would be a region of the world where war would be banished and all problems solved through diplomacy and appeasement. They gradually abandoned financing defense and security activities. Instead, they built welfare states. They thought that taking care of people from cradle to grave would suppress anger and conflicts. They denied the existence of totalitarian dangers and the necessity of showing strength. To this day, their statements indicate that European leaders think both the Berlin Wall and the Soviet empire fell thanks to the benevolence of Mikhail Gorbachev, not thanks to the determination of Ronald Reagan. To this day, they seem to think that Islam is essentially areligion of peace and that the jihadis belong to a tiny, marginal sect.

Decades ago, Europe’s leaders adopted a general policy of “openness” to the Islamic world in general, and the Arab world in particular. They decided to welcome migrants from the Muslim world by hundreds of thousands but without asking them to integrate. They made cultural relativism and multiculturalism their guiding principles. They acted as if Islam could mingle in the Western world harmoniously and without difficulty. Europe’s leaders disseminated the idea that the West was guilty of oppressing Muslims and had to pay for its sins. They therefore sowed the seeds of anti-Western resentment among Muslims in Europe.

When in the Muslim world jihadis started to kill, Europe’s leaders wanted to believe that the attacks would take place in the Muslim world only. They thought that by not interfering with what European jihadis were planning, they would not risk jihadi attacks on European soil.

When Jews were attacked, Europe’s leaders decided that the problem was not jihad, but Israel. They stressed the need not to “export Middle East conflict in Europe.” Hoping to please followers of radical Islam and show them Europe could understand their “grievances,” they placed increasing pressure on Israel. They also increased their financial and political support for the “Palestinian cause.”

When Europeans were attacked, they did not understand why. They had done their best to please the Muslims. They had not even harassed the jihadists. They still do not know how to react.

Many of them now say privately what they will never say in public: it is probably too late.

There are six to eight million Muslims in France, and more than thirty million in Western Europe. Hundreds of jihadis are trained and ready to act — anytime, anyplace. European intelligence services know that they want to make “dirty bombs.” Surveys show that tens of thousands of Muslims living in Europe approve of jihadi attacks in Europe. Millions of Muslims living in Europe keep silent, behave as if they see nothing and hear nothing, and protest only when they think they have to defend Islam.

European political leaders know that every decision they make may provoke reactions among the Muslims living in Europe. Muslim votes matter. Riots occur easily. In France, Belgium, other European countries, Islamists are present in the army and police forces. In the meantime, Islamist organizations recruit and Islamic lobbies gain ground.

European governments are now hostages. The European media are also hostages.

In most European countries, “Islamophobia” is considered a crime — and any criticism of Islam may be considered “Islamophobic.” People trying to warn Europe, such as the Dutch MP Geert Wilders, despite an apparently biased judge and forged documents against him, are now on trial.

Books on radical Islam are still published but surrounded by silence. Books praising the glory of Islam are in every bookstore. When Bat Ye’or’s Eurabia was published in Europe, she was denounced and received hundreds of death threats. Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept, published in the U.S., was not even available in Europe. Ten years later, the situation is worse.

Political movements expressing anger and concerns are rising. All are demonized by political power holders and the media. They have almost no chance of gaining more influence.

Populations are gnawed by fear, frustration and impotence. They are looking for answers, but cannot find them. A few hours after the attacks on Brussels, a man on Belgian television said that Europe is on the verge of suicide.

Europe looks like a dying civilization. European governments created a situation that can only lead to more attacks, more massacres, and maybe unspeakable disasters. Europe’s leaders continue to react with speeches and a few police operations.

If some European governments decided to restore their abolished borders, it could take years, and most European leaders would probably disagree with such a policy. Meanwhile, millions more “migrants” will enter Europe, and among them many more jihadis. In spite of the mayhem created in Germany by “migrants” who arrived in 2015, Angela Merkel said she would not change her decisions. No Western European government dared to disagree with her, except Viktor Orbán in Hungary, a lone voice of dissent.

In Brussels, as in Paris earlier, people gathered where the attacks took place. They brought candles and flowers to mourn the victims. They sang sentimental songs. They cried. There were no shouts of revolt against jihad. Members of the Belgian government called on the Belgian people to avoid reactions of violence, and declared that Muslims are the main victims of terrorism.

In Europe’s near future, more people will bring candles, flowers and songs to mourn victims. Another two or three jihadists will be arrested. But nothing will be done.

Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.