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.

ISIS jihadi warns mom in Belgium: “Don’t go out on Monday”

The Rebel, by Victor Laszlo, April 10, 2016:

This story, widely reported in Belgian media, is now translated into English where an Islamic State jihadi warns his mother in Belgium not to go to popular public places tomorrow. (April 11)

Excerpt from the full English translation:

This SMS was published by numerous medias on Friday, with all the usualprecautions. But the police, who indeed know the identity of the mother and herson, take the matter very seriously and additional troops provide security in public places (cinema, party rooms, Shopping centres) in the city dear to Bart De
Wever. “It is, however, difficult to judge whether these threats are serious or not,” Wouter Bruyns, spokesman of the Antwerp police, told our colleagues fromNieuwsblad.

The original Belgian French article can be seen here

Given events in Belgium over the past few months, warnings such as this should be given consideration most certainly.

The dilemma is exacerbated by European nations’ reluctance to warn the public. If they do, they incur massive costs to civil society without the need for an actual attack; if they don’t inform the public, they risk a few dead.

The dilemma could be readily resolved were these nations to identify the threat — Islam — and take action against its agents.

Belgium Fell Asleep at Their Guard Post

20160322_BRUSSELSFamily Security Matters, by Barry Shaw, March 24, 2016:

Western intelligence services repeatedly warned Belgium of a serious and imminent terror threat. They even gave the intended targets, the airport and the underground system, but Belgian security services failed to take the necessary preventative measures that may have stopped the huge loss of life and injury on March 22 in Brussels.

As one Israeli counter-terror expert told me, “they fell asleep on guard duty even after being told the enemy was about to attack them.”

Whether the Belgians either did not take the warnings seriously, or they did not know what to do with the intelligence, it does seem, when adding other cases of Belgian dismissal of counter-terror warnings that there is deep rooted problem in that country.

Last November’s deadly terror outrage in Paris showed that Belgium was the base of the terrorists’ operations.

A top US counter-terror official travelling in Europe was turned down when he requested to meet his Belgian counterparts. He was told that they were “too busy” investigating the Paris atrocity. (‘Belgium not cooperating with US on counter-terror efforts,’ Reuters, 24 March, 2016)

This brush-off was one small sign of US frustration over Belgian handling of their growing Islamic terror threat. This frustration has stretched to Turkey who, last year, deported one of the Paris suicide bombers, Brahim Abdeslam, back to Belgium. He, apparently, slipped off the Belgian security radar, allowing him to travel to France and perpetrate his deadly attack.

Worse still, Turkey detained Ibrahim El Bakraoui in June 2015. They notified the Belgian Embassy in Ankara the same month and then deported him back to Brussels the following month. The Turks reported that “the Belgians ignored our warning that this person was a foreign fighter” (i.e. terrorist).  El Bakraoui was released by the Belgium authorities. They claimed that “no links to terrorism” could be found, yet this man walked undetected into Brussels airport together with his brother pushing two trolleys containing the two heavy bombs that killed and maimed too many people.

This, and now the revelation that the Belgium authorities were warned that this was about to happen and they did nothing to prevent it.

There is something sadly delusional in Belgium. It is a dysfunctional country with two populations, speaking different languages, at political loggerheads with themselves.

It thrives as the capital of European bureaucracy and is trapped by the thought-process and the system that this bureaucracy imposes on them. It is also trapped by the ideology that it has to show itself to be the supreme European example of progressive liberal socialist policies and philosophy. This has blinded them to the harsh reality of what has been playing out in their midst, and much of Western Europe, namely shunting a disillusioned and increasingly radicalized second generation youth into their ‘no-go zones’, a youth who, despite the social welfare benefits, resent the generosity of the country of their birth and wish to return to their Islamic origins not in the Middle East but in the place of their birth.

Against this backdrop Belgium, but certainly not confined to Belgium, put human rights, even for terrorists, before the human rights of their innocent civilians.

This may be the reason why they were so slow to act on the terror tip-off.  After years of condemning other countries such as America and Israel of offending their sensitivities in questioning terrorists, they couldn’t put themselves in the same situation even though they were warned of a ‘ticking bomb’ scenario. And so, they let the bomb go off.

They had the prime suspect in custody following the apprehension of Salah Abdelsam but they apparently did not extract the information from him. Despite this, they failed to act on the incoming intelligence that should have set red alert alarm bells ringing, especially as the targets were named.

The Belgium government has to prove itself more moral than morality permits. They claim they lose their humanity if they treat evil terrorist killers any differently than they would the ordinary man on the street. They are dangerously wrong. Charity, and humanity, begins at home by doing everything within their power to protect and defend the lives of their civilians above the rights of the stranger that comes to kill you. Human lives trump human rights.

Only three weeks ago, Belgium was warned in an EU report that untrained border guards at their main airport were failing to check suspicious passengers from high risk countries against the EU’s counter-terrorism database. (‘Belgium rebuked for chaotic passport control three weeks ago.’ Daily Telegraph, March 24.)

Compare that to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport with its eleven rings of security.

The problem we saw in Paris and now Brussels is not what we saw happening in the last few months. It is what has been allowed to develop over the last fifteen to twenty years in Europe. PC is the new political incorrectness. Europe is beginning to become aware that warnings ignored for years have become deadly reality.  The havoc in their societies highlighted by the disaffected, the unemployed, the entitlement society, the rising crime rates, the rising voices of hate and resentment, the radicalization and the accelerating rate of violence and terror incidents, show that the socialist liberal politics simply have not worked. Opening their gates to a tsunami of migrants has put the final nail in the coffin of Europe as a compassionate society.

As I said in a recent conference on the refugee crisis, Calais is no longer Calais, Cologne is no longer Cologne, now Brussels is no longer Brussels. Compassionate Europe is no longer compassionate Europe but a fearful Europe. People do not leave the Middle East for Europe, they bring the Middle East with them into Europe. They bring with them their norms of thought and behavior. No amount of integration or tolerance can remove this inner self that leaves a resentment coming to the fore when all else fails.

This resentment displayed in a rapidly growing polarization in the population of many European countries. This has been caused by the failure of liberal socialist policies when it comes to social cohesion and national and personal security concerns.

Barry Shaw is the Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to The Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College. He is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’ 

Brussels Bombing Marks Strategic Shift by ISIS to Direct Attacks in Europe

AP

AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, March 24, 2016:

The suicide bombings in Brussels represent a shift in tactics for the Islamic State terrorist group toward direct, mass casualty attacks in Europe, according to a State Department security report.

“The March 22 bombings in Brussels and the November 13 attacks in Paris highlight a strategic shift by ISIL to direct operations in Europe versus relying on inspired and self-radicalized individuals,” said the report by the Overseas Security Advisory Council, a State Department security office that works with American corporations overseas.

“European authorities continue to warn of the risk of additional mass casualty attacks in the region,” the internal report based on open sources said.

Additionally, dozens of active Islamic State terrorists are now operating in Belgium and Europe. The Tuesday suicide bombings were carried out by Belgian extremists trained in Syria and Iraq who returned to the continent, the report said.

Three suicide blasts—two at Belgium’s international airport and one at a subway station— were set off between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. local time, killing 31 people and wounding 270.

The report warned that the threat of further terrorist attacks in Europe “remains high in the near future.”

“So far, ISIL has not targeted the U.S. private sector in Europe,” the report said. “However, the group is likely to continue coordinating attacks against soft targets to heighten the potential for collateral damage and maximize causalities.”

As a result, Americans in Europe should be vigilant for further terrorist bombings or shootings.

The report said two of the terrorists were brothers Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui.

A third bomber who blew himself up at the airport has not been identified. Police, however, are looking for Najim Laachraoui, an ISIS recruiter and bomb maker who authorities have linked to the Paris attacks. Laachraoui, who authorities say traveled to Syria in 2013, was linked by DNA to two explosives belts found after the Paris attacks.

A fourth suspect in the plot is being sought by authorities after he abandoned a bomb at the airport and fled the scene.

Conflicting reports from Europe identified Laachraoui alternatively as the third suicide bomber killed in a blast at the airport, and as the still-unidentified man who fled the airport.

“The two deceased terrorists had heavy criminal records unrelated to terrorism,” Belgian Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw told reporters in Brussels Wednesday.

ISIS claimed credit for the attack through its news agency.

In Turkey, the government announced Wednesday that one of the bombers, Ibrahim Bakraoui, was detained in June and deported to the Netherlands, Agence France Presse reported.

According to the report, the deadly blasts were carried out four days after the arrest of Saleh Abdelslam, one of the organizers of the Paris terror attacks who has been linked to ISIS and its recruitment network in Europe. The Nov. 15 attacks in Paris left 130 people dead.

“While no links between Abdeslam and the March 22 bombings were confirmed, it is evident that the bombings required resources and planning and likely were being prepared for some time,” the report said, adding that if Abdeslam was involved in the planning of the bombings, “the timing of the plot may have been pushed up by his arrest, possibly over fears of a disruption.”

The bombings in Brussels took place after several recent counterterrorism raids by security forces and shows “the pervasiveness of the network behind the terrorism threat in Belgium and elsewhere in Western Europe,” the report said.

A fourth suspect in the terror network was identified as Mohamed Abrini, who was photographed with Abdeslam at a gas station shortly before the Paris attacks.

“In addition to Abrini, Laachraoui, and the suspect in the airport bombing, dozens of other returned foreign fighters and homegrown extremists may currently make up a network of extremists in Belgium and elsewhere in Europe, which is difficult for authorities to map out, let alone to eradicate,” the report said.

According to the report, out of the approximately 500 Belgian Islamists who recently traveled to Syria and Iraq, 128 have returned home.

“An estimated 215 Belgian foreign fighters originated from Brussels,” the report said.

Most of the Belgian ISIS terrorists come from areas outside Brussels, including about 100 from Antwerp and about 40 from the Flemish Brabant region, including Vilvoorde.

The large number of locations that produced ISIS members suggests that “communities vulnerable to radicalization exist throughout the country,” the report said.

Belgian military forces deployed an additional 225 troops after the attacks and boosted security at nuclear power facilities.

Shortly after Tuesday’s attacks, security forces raided a residence in the Schaerbeek area of Brussels that was linked to the airport bombers. Inside, explosives, chemicals, and a black IS flag were found.

The explosive material likely used in the attack was identified as a homemade substance called TATP, for triacetone triperoxide. Thirty-three pounds of the material was found in the Schaerbeek residence, according to news reports.

The report warned that additional police raids are likely and that there is still a risk of additional attacks or copycat strikes.

Despite the attacks, which disrupted air and subway travel, stores and businesses remained opened and the airport is expected to reopen on Saturday.

Cell phone service was temporarily disrupted shortly after the attacks by the high volume of calls, not by any damage to communications networks.

Social media was used as an alternative communications method, and Facebook activated its safety check feature that helped travelers notify others of their status and location.

The State Department report said U.S. private sector companies were not specifically targeted in the bombings, but that the attacks impacted several U.S. firms.

The Stuttgart, Germany-based headquarters of the U.S. European Command restricted travel to Brussels by troops and their families after the bombing.

Brussels is the headquarters of the NATO alliance.

Also see:

ISIS Takes the Capital of the European Union

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Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, March 23, 2016:

The European Union was first brought into being to “safeguard” world peace. Today, the employees of the EU in Brussels were told to cower in fear in their government buildings while Islamic Jihadists once again terrorized this city whose population is already nearly a quarter Muslim.

Practicing Muslims outnumber practicing Christians in Brussels. After a search for Islamic terrorists had shut down the city, its Socialist mayor complained, “We will not live under the Islamic regime.”

But it’s too late for that. He already is. There are 300,000 Muslims in the capital of the European Union. It’s estimated that they will become the majority of the population in 14 years.

Brussels is the first outpost of ISIS in Europe. It is a doomed city that will be lost to Islam within our lifetimes. A Muslim terrorist attack in Brussels is as surprising as a car bombing in Baghdad.

Belgium’s home affairs minister announced last year that the government does not “have control of the situation in Molenbeek.” Jihadists rule in this Muslim neighborhood, which is just as much of an outpost of ISIS as anywhere in Syria or Iraq, just 12 minutes away from the European Parliament, 15 minutes away from the European Commission, 23 minutes away from NATO HQ and 22 minutes away from Brussels Airport; today’s target. ISIS doesn’t have to invade Brussels. It just has to take a short drive.

Last year during the European Parliament elections, Brussels became the site of the first terrorist attack by a returning ISIS fighter. The target was the Jewish Museum of Belgium. The Mayor of Brussels said that more diversity was the answer. Next year, Jihadists operating partly out of Brussels carried out a massacre of 130 people in Paris while shouting “Allahu Akbar” at each killing spree.

The dead included French, Belgians, Mexicans, Germans, Portuguese, Romanians and Chileans. The killers were all Muslims.

That is what diversity looks like now.

Over 500 Jihadis from Belgium are fighting with ISIS. There are nearly a hundred Jihadists back from the unholy wars in Syria living in Molenbeek in Brussels. They should be deported, but the EU would object.  And so instead, the European Union and all of Europe remain under siege by the Jihadist next door.

The “organized and living Europe” of the EU’s founding Schuman Declaration isn’t aiding “civilization.” The EU is neither organized nor living. Instead it’s killing Europe and civilization. The dream of uniting Europe isn’t just dead. It’s a virulent cancer that routes hordes of angry young Muslim men from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Eritrea to loot, rape and murder their way across Europe.

At the heart of the EU’s rot in Brussels are No-Go Zones controlled by Jihadists. Despite all of Belgium’s gun laws, in Molenbeek, Jihadists buy and sell at the Great Bazaar of Kalashshnikovs. The bazaar is stocked and the terrorists move in and out of Brussels thanks to the open borders of the EU.

While the EU claims to control Europe, there is no safety, security or control even in its own capital.

Brussels’ Islam Party has elected two Muslim politicians on a platform of creating an Islamic State in Belgium.  Advocates for an Islamic State that would enforce Sharia law hold elected office in Belgium.

Even if the rest of the world only pays attention when the bombs go off and knives come out in Brussels.

When the European Union was created, the foreign-born population of Belgium consisted of some 300,000 people, most of them Italians and Greeks, in a country of over eight million. Today the foreign-born population stands at 1.4 million, much of it Muslim, with a large additional population of Muslim settlers born in Belgium. Belgium once colonized. Now it is being colonized.

The capital of the European Union will be one of the first cities in Europe to fall to the invaders.

We already know how the next part goes. The broken glass will be cleaned away. The bloody wounded will be removed out of sight. The dead will be buried. An Imam will be invited to the memorial service. Everyone will wear t-shirts printed with the latest terrorist tragedy meme. The cafes will reopen. The music will play again. Couples will forget and stroll the streets.

Bureaucrats will sit down in their glass towers and draw up plans for the future of the EU in a city that will be lost in a decade.  Then they will try to ignore all the heavily armed soldiers in the streets.

Islamic terrorism is not the ultimate threat. It is the real world intruding on the progressive fantasy.

16% of young Muslim men in Belgium are willing to say that they believe that terrorism is justified. But they are only the tip of the iceberg. Support for Sharia law hovers around the 60 percent mark. The former may bomb airports or shoot up museums, but it’s the latter who will destroy the country.

On the television screens, the politicians come and go talking of “youthful despair”. But the Muslim terrorists with their guns and bombs haven’t given up. It’s the Europeans who gave up.

This is not a crisis of “hopelessness”, “integration” or any of the other excuses that politicians use to explain Islamic terrorism without dropping the dreaded I-word that invokes the fearful charge of Islamophobia. The Greeks and Italians who used to do the dirty work in Belgium were not bombing subways and museums no matter how bad the “overcrowding” and “joblessness” might be.

This is not a social problem. It is a supremacist problem.

Muslim terrorism is not caused by despair, but by hope. A Muslim suicide bomber does not die out of hopelessness, but because he hopes to impose Islam and earn 72 virgins in paradise. He shouts “Allahu Akbar”, proclaiming the supremacy of his Islamic religion over Christianity, Judaism and all the rest, as he kills his victims because he believes that a different Europe is possible. An Islamic Europe.

The latest terror attack in Brussels has been called “an attack on all of Europe.” But it’s Brussels, with the insistence on open borders and open migrant policies, that is the real attack on all of Europe.

Muslim immigration is its outcome. Muslim terrorism is the outcome of Muslim immigration.

The European Union was born out of despair. Europeans lost confidence in their own nations. They opened their borders and sat on the beach while the migrant waves washed away their future.

Brussels is where Europe’s future died. It is the first real outpost of the Islamic State in Europe. It shows us Europe’s terrible future if the invasion does not end.

There are three visions in Brussels. The vision of an eternal European Union in a doomed city that will be lost sooner than Venice sinks beneath the waves. The Islamic vision of a Caliphate rising minutes away from the ponderous headquarters of the multinational European project and the vision of independent nations and peoples protecting their own borders from the invaders for the future of their children.

Take in the sight of broken glass and bloodied bodies, frightened families fleeing through the smoke, faces covered in ash, and remember that this is the outcome of the progressive vision for Europe.

This is reality intruding into the fantasies of immigration and integration where a new multicultural Europe shines forth as a beacon from Brussels to show us a better world. These people died so that you would know the truth. They were not the first and they will not be the last.

If we do not want to end up the same way, we must end Islamic immigration before it ends us.

Also see:

Why Belgium is Ground Zero for European Jihadis

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, March 23, 2016:

  • Growing numbers of Belgian Muslims live in isolated ghettos where poverty, unemployment and crime are rampant. In Molenbeek, the unemployment rate hovers at around 40%. Radical imams aggressively canvass in search of shiftless youths to wage jihad against the West.
  • “When we have to contact these people [European officials] or send our guys over to talk to them, we’re essentially talking with people who are… children. These are not pro-active, they don’t know what’s going on. They’re in such denial. It’s such a frightening thing to admit their country is being taken over.” — American intelligence official.
  • “Returned Syria fighters are a huge threat… It is absolutely unbelievable that our governments allow them to return… Every government in the West, which refuses to do so [lock them up], is a moral accessory if one of these monsters commits an atrocity. … Our citizens are in mortal danger if we do not restore control over our own national borders.” — Dutch MP Geert Wilders.

The terrorist attacks on the airport and metro in Brussels are casting a spotlight, once again, on Belgium’s ignominious role as a European haven for jihadists.

Several distinct but interconnected factors help explain why Brussels, the political capital of Europe, has emerged as the jihadist capital of Europe.

Scenes from the jihad on Belgium: The aftermath of yesterday’s bomb attacks at the Brussels airport (left) and a metro station (right).

Large Muslim Population

The Muslim population of Belgium is expected to reach 700,000 in 2016, or around 6.2% of the overall population, according to figures extrapolated from a recent study by the Pew Research Center. In percentage terms, Belgium has one of the highest Muslim populations in Western Europe.

In metropolitan Brussels — where roughly half of Belgium’s Muslims currently live — the Muslim population has reached 300,000, or roughly 25%. This makes Brussels one of the most Islamic cities in Europe.

Approximately 100,000 Muslims live in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, which has emerged as the center of Belgian jihadism.

Parallel Societies

Belgium’s radical Islam problem originated in the 1960s, when Belgian authorities encouraged mass migration from Turkey and Morocco as a source of cheap labor. They were later followed by migrants from Egypt and Libya.

The factories eventually closed, but the migrants stayed and planted family roots. Today, most Muslims in Belgium are the third- and fourth-generation offspring of the original migrants. While many Belgian Muslims are integrated into Belgian society, many others are not.

Growing numbers of Belgian Muslims live in marginal districts — isolated ghettos where poverty, unemployment and crime are rampant. In Molenbeek, the unemployment rate hovers at around 40%. Radical imams aggressively canvass the area in search of shiftless youths to wage jihad against the West.

Salafism

As in other European countries, many Muslims in Belgium are embracing Salafism — a radical form of Islam — and its call to wage violent jihad against all nonbelievers for the sake of Allah.

Salafism takes its name from the Arabic term salaf, which means predecessors or ancestors — meaning of Mohammed. Salafists trace their roots to Saudi Arabia, the Mohammed’s birthplace. They glorify an idealized vision of what they claim is the true, original Islam, practiced by the earliest generations of Muslims, including Mohammed and his companions and followers, in the 7th and 8th centuries. The aim of Salafism is to recreate a pure form of Islam in the modern era.

This goal presents serious problems for modern, secular and pluralistic states. A recent German intelligence report defined Salafism as a “political ideology, the followers of which view Islam not only as a religion but also a legal framework which regulates all areas of life: from the state’s role in organizing relations between people, to the private life of the individual.”

The report added: “Salafism rejects the democratic principles of separation of state and religion, popular sovereignty, religious and sexual self-determination, gender equality and the fundamental right to physical integrity.”

Although Salafists make up only a small fraction of Europe’s burgeoning Muslim community, authorities are increasingly worried that many of those attracted to Salafi ideology are impressionable young Muslims who may be receptive to calls for violence in the name of Islam.

Sharia4Belgium

Before the rise of the Islamic State, the best-known Salafist group in Belgium was Sharia4Belgium, which played an important role in radicalizing Belgian Muslims.

Sharia4Belgium was outlawed in February 2015, when its leader, Fouad Belkacem, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. A partial archive of the group’s former website can be found at the Internet Archive. There Sharia4Belgium issues an invitation to all Belgians to convert to Islam and submit to Sharia law or face the consequences. The text states:

“It is now 86 years since the fall of the Islamic Caliphate. The tyranny and corruption in this country [Belgium] has prevailed; we go from one scandal to another: Economic crises, paedophilia, crime, growing Islamophobia, etc.

“As in the past we [Muslims] have saved Europe from the dark ages, we now plan to do the same. Now we have the right solution for all crises and this is the observance of the divine law, namely Sharia. We call to implement Sharia in Belgium.

“Sharia is the perfect system for humanity. In 1,300 years of the Islamic state we knew only order, welfare and the protection of all human rights. We know that Spain, France and Switzerland knew their best times under Sharia. In these 1,300 years, 120 women were raped, which is equal to 120 women a day in Europe. There were barely 60 robberies recorded in 1,300 years.

“As a result, we invite the royal family, parliament, all the aristocracy and every Belgian resident to submit to the light of Islam. Save yourself and your children of the painful punishment of the hereafter and grant yourself eternal life in paradise.”

A cache of the background image for the Sharia4Belgium website has the black flag of jihad flying above the Belgian Parliament. Until recently, the Sharia4Belgium YouTube page (also shut down) was used to incite Muslims to jihad. The group had posted videos with titles such as, “Jihad Is Obligatory,” “Encouraging Jihad,” “Duelling & Guerrilla Warfare,” and “The Virtues of Martyrdom.” Thus Sharia4Belgium paved the way for the Islamic State in Belgium.

Belgian Jihadists

One of the smallest countries in Western Europe, Belgium has become Europe’s biggest per capita source of jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq. According to data provided by Interior Minister Jan Jambon on February 22, 2016, 451 Belgian citizens have been identified as jihadists. Of these, 269 are on the battlefields in Syria or Iraq; 6 are believed currently to be on their way to the war zone; 117 have returned to Belgium; and 59 attempted to leave but were stopped at the border.

According to Jambon, 197 of the jihadists are from Brussels: 112 are in Syria while 59 have returned to Belgium. Another 195 jihadists are from Flanders: 133 are in Syria while 36 have returned.

Belgium is the EU’s leading supplier of jihadists to the Islamic State per capita: around 40 jihadists per million inhabitants, compared to Denmark (27), Sweden (19), France (18), Austria (17), Finland (13); Norway (12), UK (9.5), Germany (7.5) and Spain (2).

Official Incompetence?

During the past 24 months, at least five jihadist attacks have been linked to Belgium. In May 2014, jihadists attacked the Jewish Museum in Brussels. In August 2014, a jihadist with links to Molenbeek attacked an Amsterdam-to-Paris train. In January 2015, Belgian police carried out an anti-jihadist raid in Verviers, Belgium.

In November 2015, it emerged that two of the eight jihadists who struck Paris were residents of Brussels. Police on March 18 arrested Salah Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national of Moroccan origin, for his role in the Paris attacks. He had been months on the run. On March 22, jihadists once again struck Brussels.

After the Paris attacks in November 2015, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said: “There is almost always a link with Molenbeek. That’s a gigantic problem. Apart from prevention, we should also focus more on repression.”

Interior Minister Jambon added:

“We don’t have control of the situation in Molenbeek at present. We have to step up efforts there as a next task. I see that [Molenbeek] Mayor Françoise Schepmans is also asking our help, and that the local police chief is willing to cooperate. We should join forces and ‘clean up’ the last bit that needs to be done, that is really necessary.”

The latest attack in Brussels, however, indicates that Belgian authorities still do not have the jihadist problem under control.

A Belgian counterterrorism official said that due to the small size of the Belgian government and the large numbers of ongoing investigations, virtually every police detective and military intelligence officer in the country was focused on international jihadi investigations. He added:

“We just don’t have the people to watch anything else and, frankly, we don’t have the infrastructure to properly investigate or monitor hundreds of individuals suspected of terror links, as well as pursue the hundreds of open files and investigations we have. It’s literally an impossible situation and, honestly, it’s very grave.”

An American intelligence official reportedly said that working with security officials there was like working with children:

“Even with the EU in general, there’s an infiltration of jihadists that’s been happening for two decades. And now they’re just starting to work on this. When we have to contact these people or send our guys over to talk to them, we’re essentially talking with people who are — I’m just going to put it bluntly — children. These are not pro-active, they don’t know what’s going on. They’re in such denial. It’s such a frightening thing to admit their country is being taken over.”

In November 2015, the New York Times published a scathing analysis of Belgian incompetence. It emerged that a month before the Paris attacks, Molenbeek Mayor Schepmans received a list with the names and addresses of 80 jihadists living in her district. The list included two brothers who would later take part in the November 13 attacks in Paris.

According to the Times, Schepmans said: “What was I supposed to do about them? It is not my job to track possible terrorists. That is the responsibility of the federal police.” The Timescontinued: “The federal police service, for its part, reports to the interior minister, Jan Jambon, a Flemish nationalist who has doubts about whether Belgium — divided among French, Dutch and German speakers — should even exist as a single state.”

An Artificial State

Belgium, nestled between France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, was established in 1830 to serve as a neutral buffer state between the geopolitical rivals, France and Germany. Belgium’s role as a buffer state effectively came to an end after the end of the Second World War and the subsequent move toward European integration. Over time, Brussels emerged as the de facto capital of the European Union.

For the past three decades, Belgium has faced an existential crisis due to growing antagonism between the speakers of Dutch and French. One observer wrote:

“The country operates on the basis of linguistic apartheid, which infects everything from public libraries to local and regional government, the education system, the political parties, national television, the newspapers, even football teams. There is no national narrative in Belgium, rather two opposing stories told in Dutch or French. The result is a dialogue of the deaf.”

This dysfunction extends to Belgian counter-terrorism. The New York Times observed:

“With three uneasily joined populations, Belgium has a dizzying plethora of institutions and political parties divided along linguistic, ideological or simply opportunistic lines, which are being blamed for the country’s seeming inability to get a handle on its terrorist threat.

“It was hardly difficult to find the two Molenbeek brothers before they helped kill 130 people in the Paris assaults: They lived just 100 yards from the borough’s City Hall, across a cobblestone market square in a subsidized borough-owned apartment clearly visible from the mayor’s second-floor corner office. A third brother worked for Ms. Schepmans’s borough administration.

“Much more difficult, however, was negotiating the labyrinthine pathways that connect — and also divide — a multitude of bodies responsible for security in Brussels, a capital city with six local police forces and a federal police service.

“Brussels has three Parliaments, 19 borough assemblies and the headquarters of two intelligence services — one military, one civilian — as well as a terrorism threat assessment unit whose chief, exhausted and demoralized by internecine turf battles, resigned in July but is still at his desk.

“Lost in the muddle were the two brothers, Ibrahim Abdeslam, who detonated a suicide vest in Paris, and Salah, who is the target of an extensive manhunt that has left the police flailing as they raid homes across the country.”

The language issue also affects integration. As a Washington Post analysis explains, “Many jobs in Brussels require knowledge of French, Flemish or Dutch, and now sometimes English, too, while most immigrants speak mostly Arabic and some French. That has blocked integration.”

Open Borders

The so-called Schengen Agreement, which allows for passport-free travel throughout most of the European Union, has allowed jihadists posing as migrants to enter Europe through Greece and make their way to northern Europe virtually undetected.

In an interview with Breitbart London, Dutch Politician Geert Wilders, currently on trial in the Netherlands for free speech, said:

“Returned Syria fighters are a huge threat. They are dangerous predators roaming our streets. It is absolutely unbelievable that our governments allow them to return. And it is incredible that, once returned, they are not imprisoned.

“In the Netherlands, we have dozens of these returned jihadists. Our government allows most of them to freely walk our streets and refuses to lock them up. I demand that they be detained at once. Every government in the West, which refuses to do so, is a moral accessory if one of these monsters commits an atrocity.

“The government must also close our national borders. The European Union’s Schengen zone, where no border controls are allowed, is a catastrophe. The Belgian Moroccan Salah Abdeslam, the mastermind of last November’s bloodbath in Paris, travelled freely from Belgium to the Netherlands on multiple occasions last year.

Wilders concluded: “This is intolerable. Open borders are a huge safety risk. Our citizens are in mortal danger if we do not restore control over our own national borders.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. His first book, Global Fire, will be out in 2016.

Belgian Attacks Horrific, But Expected

jihadi tweetby IPT News  •  Mar 22, 2016

As shocking as this morning’ssimultaneous terror attacks at Belgium’s airport and in its Metro system may be, they show the disturbing depth of the terrorist infrastructure which was allowed to take root in the European Union capital’s back yard.

A series of police actions reportedly are underway targeting elements of that infrastructure. It’s a safe bet that some of those raids will be in Molenbeek, a Brussels suburb.

It has been dubbed “Europe’s terrorism capital.” Saleh Abdeslam, the key surviving player in November’s horrific attacks in Paris, was arrested in Molenbeek Friday. Police were thanked by a hail of bottles, stones and other debris by locals more loyal to the terrorist than the land that gave them refuge.

Authorities “don’t have control of the situation in Molenbeek at present” and said the authorities needed to “clean up” the area, said Interior Minister Jan Jambon.

In raids last week, authorities found an ISIS flag, a book about Salafism, a sizable cache of weapons, indicating more attacks were in the works. They just didn’t realize how close to completion those plans were.

The Paris attacks were planned in Molenbeek – three of the attackers grew up there – and the resulting investigation last November prompted officials to place the entire country on lockdown, fearing attacks like Tuesday’s in Brussels were imminent.

“We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium said Tuesday.

Belgian Muslims have left Europe to join the Islamic State in greater numbers per capita than any other country. It is so pervasive, Buzzfeed reports, that Belgian law enforcement admits being overwhelmed by the volume of open terrorism investigations.

Their challenge is compounded by the depth of Islamist radicalization which has taken root in Molenbeek, as Friday’s violent reaction to Abdeslam’s arrest shows.

“There is a sort of clannishness in the area that is stronger than anything else,” Claude Moniquet, a former intelligence agent now with the European Centre for Strategic Intelligence and Security in Brussels, told London’s Telegraph.

***

Terrorists attack subway, airport in Brussels

Screen-Shot-2016-03-22-at-11.17.48-AMLong War Journal, by Bill Rogio and Thomas Joscelyn, March 22, 2016:

Terrorists struck an international airport in Brussels and a subway station not far from the European Union’s headquarters earlier today. Initial casualty reports indicate that at least 34 people were killed and approximately 170 more were injured. Two explosions reportedly rocked the Brussels Airport and a third bomb was detonated at the Maelbeek station in downtown Brussels.

The Amaq News Agency, a propaganda arm of the Islamic State, has issued a claim of responsibility on its social media sites. The claim can be seen above.

“Islamic State fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices on Tuesday, targeting an airport and a central metro station in the center of the Belgian capital Brussels, a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State,” Amaq’s statement reads in English.

The Islamic State media outfit has not yet provided any additional information concerning the attacks, but the claim is hardly surprising.

Today’s attacks in Belgium took place just four days after Belgian and French police arrested Salah Abdeslam, an Islamic State operative who is suspected providing logistical support and explosives manufacturing for the terrorist team responsible for the Nov. 13, 2015 coordinated attacks in Paris. Another suspect, Mohamed Belkaid, was killed in a shootout during the raid in Brussels that netted Abdelslam.

The Islamic State has long targeted Belgium. And today’s attacks emphasize the persistent threats Europeans face.

After the assault in Paris, French President François Hollande explained that the massacre was “planned in Syria, organized in Belgium, [and] perpetrated on our soil with French complicity.” Belgium was a key operational hub for that attack and other terrorist plots. The Islamic State has repeatedly said that Belgium is in its crosshairs.

European counterterrorism officials identified a Belgian man, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, as a key figure in the Paris attacks. Abaaoud was subsequently killed during a raid by French authorities, but his network continues to pose a threat to France, Belgium and other European nations. Known terrorists such as Abaaoud and his comrades are slipping through the cracks because European officials are being forced to investigate more threats than ever.

French officials linked to Abaaoud to two other plots in France earlier in the 2015. According to the Associated Press, Abaaoud is though to have been involved in an attack on a Paris-bound train and another on a church in the suburbs of Paris.

Despite his involvement in these plots, Abaaoud continued to operate in Europe. And he did not keep a low profile The Islamic State interviewed Abaaoud in the seventh issue of its English-language magazine Dabiq, which was released in February 2015. [See LWJ report, Key suspect in Paris attacks has been featured in Islamic State propaganda.]

The cover of Dabiq 7 mocked Muslims who stood in unity with France over al Qaeda’s attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015. Dabiq described Abaaoud as “a mujahid being pursued by Western Intelligence agencies for his jihad in Belgium.” Two members of Abaaoud’s cell were killed in a shootout with Belgian police during a raid on their safe house in Verviers on Jan. 15, 2015, just one week after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo’s offices.

In his interview with Dabiq, Abaaoud admitted that he and two accomplices, “Abuz-Zubayr al-Baljīkī (Khālid), and Abū Khālid al-Baljīkī (Sufyān),” traveled to Europe “in order to terrorize the crusaders waging war against the Muslims.”

Abaaoud said Belgium was a target as the country “is a member of the crusader coalition attacking the Muslims of Iraq and Shām [Syria].”

After some difficulties in traveling to Belgium, the three jihadists “were then able to obtain weapons and set up a safe house while we planned to carry out operations against the crusaders,” he claimed.

Abaaoud mocked Western intelligence services for failing to prevent him from entering Belgium and establish a cell, and then later failing to capture him after the Verviers raid.

“Allah blinded their vision and I was able to leave and come to Shām despite being chased after by so many intelligence agencies,” he stated. “All this proves that a Muslim should not fear the bloated image of the crusader intelligence. My name and picture were all over the news yet I was able to stay in their homeland, plan operations against them, and leave safely when doing so became necessary.”

Abaaoud said he was stopped by security officials after the Verviers raid and police failed to match him with a photograph of him that was obtained while he was in Syria.

“I was even stopped by an officer who contemplated me so as to compare me to the picture, but he let me go, as he did not see the resemblance,” he said.

Regardless of whether or not Abaaoud’s account is entirely accurate, it is clear that the Islamic State’s network in Europe has been able to launch attacks even though its operatives are sometimes well-known in Western counterterrorism and intelligence circles.

Belgian authorities have repeatedly warned that their country could be attacked at any time. After the raid on Abaaoud’s cell in Verviers, Belgian federal magistrate Eric Van der Sypt said the Islamic State was “on the verge of committing important terror attacks,” the AP reported. Van der Sypt added, “It shows we have to be extremely careful.”

An Islamic State fighter succeeded in executing an attack in Belgium in May 2014. Mehdi Nemmouche, a fighter who worked in the Islamic State’s jails in Syria, opened fire at a Jewish museum in Brussels,killing four people.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

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Belgian Authorities Release Photo of 3 Suspects at Brussels Airport

Surveillance cameras captured images of three suspected terrorists in the moments before twin blasts rocked Brussels Zaventem Airport.

The men can be seen pushing baggage carts in the terminal where 14 people were killed in the attacks.

The two men on the left can be seen wearing gloves on one hand.

Catherine Herridge said on “Outnumbered” that is often seen in suicide bombings, as the glove can be used to conceal a detonator.

The man on the right is reportedly being sought by authorities.

Europe’s terror enclaves hidden in plain sight

belgium jihadi problem

USA Today, by David A. Andelman, March 21, 2016:

PARIS — For four months, the top minds and most lethal guns in the combined security forces of France and Belgium, not to mention the computer services of Interpol, have bent every resource toward unearthing one individual — the logistical mastermind of the Paris terrorist attacks that left 130 dead last November.

Last Tuesday, four members of a Belgian anti-terrorist squad, accompanied by twoFrench liaison officers, knocked on a door in an Arab-dominated neighborhood ofBrussels. It was a routine “verification of domicile” in an apartment identified as “cold” — unoccupied, water and electricity cut for weeks. But this routine door knock uncovered the first trace of Salah Abdeslam since he slipped through the porous French-Belgium border the day after the attacks — a single fingerprint on a water glass left behind as the inhabitants fled, which incidentally it took two days to identify. Friday, Abdeslam was seized in a mass raid in the same Arab quarter where he’d grown up and where he’d apparently been hiding for months, in all but plain sight.

One stark reality has been largely lost amid the ecstasy of success in capturing, alive, Europe’s single most wanted fugitive. How was this possible — that he could remain concealed so close to home for so long? And above all, what does that mean for the ability to uncover more such plots still being hatched in Europe or the United States?

The first item for Abdeslam’s interrogators will be to determine just how wide his net might be. Sadly, most likely not all that wide, or deep. Small cells, operating autonomously, seem to be the rule. Any number of such cells may well be lurking out there — each operating independently with its own lethal mission. And per capita, there are more Belgian extremists — more than 400 — who’ve made their way to the battlefields of Syria and the ranks of Islamic State than from any other country, while France, Britain and Germany lead in terms of absolute number of ISIL recruits from European countries.

Without being overly churlish in denying the prime minister of Belgium and president of France their victory laps at a joint press conference, it would be useful if each would take a hard look at just why Abdeslam was able to remain on the loose for so long under the noses of those turning over what they thought was every rock. An instructional exercise on both sides of the Atlantic.

For a time, after the November bloodbath, there was talk of “no-go” zones in major European cities — areas, particularly Arab-dominated — where police have been unable to penetrate routinely, without the kind of massive show of force that preceded the seizure of Abdeslam. The reality is that these are less no-go zones in terms of places cops don’t dare go, than places where they get few useful results when they do show up. The police, quietly, with sensitivity and understanding, with a deep knowledge of the languages and customs of each such neighborhood, need to be there all the time. And they’re not.

More than 20 years ago, the Count Alexandre de Marenches, long-time head of French intelligence, told me that the greatest threat to his nation’s security was “an entire nation living within our country whose language we do not speak, whose customs and religion, whose hopes and fears we do not understand.” He was referring, even then, to the Islamic communities that have only multiplied in recent years and promise to multiply even further with the arrival of thousands of new refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s a question worth posing not only in Francophone Europe, but in the United States as well — the danger of the multiplication of communities where little intelligence emerges and few forces of order are truly plugged in.

In the specific case of Abdeslam, there’s the excuse that French speaking and Flemishspeaking Belgian cops have difficulty communicating, and neither group has much expertise in Arabic. There are other issues as well — the conflict, particularly in France, between domestic and international intelligence agencies, historically all too often at odds.

All of these are issues worth an urgent look in the United States. Here ISIL sympathizers can’t simply jump in a car in Iraq or Syria, pass porous frontiers and in a matter of days wind up in sympathetic communities only blocks from the targets of potentially deadly attacks. Still, America, too, must understand enemies sheltering among us. Complacency in America may be as deadly a sin as ignorance in Europe.

David A. Andelman, a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors, is editor emeritus of World Policy Journal and, with the Count Alexandre de Marenches, longtime head of French intelligence, co-author of The Fourth World War: Diplomacy and Espionage in the Age of Terrorism. Follow Andelman onTwitter: @DavidAndelman

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Raid of Belgian building tied to Paris terror attacks ends with 1 dead

A victim is removed from the scene where shots were fired during a police anti-terror raid in Brussels linked to the Paris massacre suspects Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3493389/Police-officer-shot-anti-terror-raid-house-Brussels-hunt-Paris-massacre-suspects.html#ixzz430f16dmn  Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

A victim is removed from the scene where shots were fired during a police anti-terror raid in Brussels linked to the Paris massacre suspects
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3493389/Police-officer-shot-anti-terror-raid-house-Brussels-hunt-Paris-massacre-suspects.html#ixzz430f16dmn
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

CNN, March 15, 2016:

A raid of a building in the Belgian capital tied to last year’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris ended Tuesday evening with one suspect dead and four police officers wounded. A search is underway for others who got away.

Police went to search a presumably empty apartment Tuesday afternoon in southern Brussels, only to have people inside begin shooting at them, according to one senior Belgian counterterrorism official.

A man in Forest, the southern Brussels district where the raid occurred, heard about 30 shots early in the confrontation — including some from a suspect firing what appeared to be a rifle at police.

“I ended up in the middle of terror here in Brussels,” the witness said.

Three police officers were wounded in an initial burst of gunfire, with a fourth hurt later. South Brussels police spokeswoman Marie Verdete initially indicated that three officers suffered slight injuries in two shootouts in the same building.

Police securing the building searching for explosives and weapons found the body of a suspect who had been barricaded inside, said Eric Van der Sypt, a spokesman for Belgium’s federal prosecutor. The Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN the suspect was killed by a Belgian police sniper.

It will take some time to identify the body, Van der Sypt said, but a preliminary examination indicates it is “most probably not” suspected Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam.

Van der Sypt also couldn’t say how many suspects had escaped from the building along Rue du Dries, a small and typically calm road.

Belgium a focus after Paris attacks

It’s unknown what connection Tuesday’s raid has to the November 13 carnage in Paris. Belgium has been a focal point for investigators.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings and gunfire that left at least 130 people dead and hundreds wounded.

European investigators focused intently on Belgium, especially Brussels, on the heels of the attack.

Earlier this year, a senior Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN that two terrorist operatives phoned in orders from Brussels to those directly involved in the Paris attacks.

These two had an even more integral role than Abdelhamid Abaaoud — the man long identified as the ringleader of the attacks — according to the official.

Attack suspect not target of latest raid, sources say

Abaaoud was killed during a dramatic raid that shook a Paris neighborhood and collapsed an entire floor of an apartment building.

Yet others with Belgian connections and ties to the November 13 attacks remain at large.

They include Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national who lived and spent time with Abaaoud in a Belgian prison. The trail for Abdeslam, one of the few alleged Paris attackers to escape alive, went cold in December, according to a senior European counterterrorism official.

French sources close to the investigation said Abdeslam was not the target of Tuesday’s raid. (French police were part of that operation, according to those sources.)

There are many reason authorities investigating the Paris attacks are in Belgium. Many of those tied to the Paris attacks live in the country, and they’re believed to have met there before lashing out.

There is concern more individuals from the same place may be ready to launch other attacks.

Last month, investigators conducting a search in connection to what happened in Paris found about 10 hours of video surveillance of a senior Belgian nuclear official, Belgian prosecutor’s office spokesman Thierry Werts said. It’s unclear if that footage was from before or after the November attacks.

Belgian Breeding Ground Fuels New Terror Wave

belgiumby Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
November 23, 2015

Time was, thoughts of Belgium led to thoughts of rich, dark chocolate, of Old Master painters and delicate, handmade lace.

Now it brings a different image: of Islamic jihad and men armed with Kalashnikovs, and of secret meetings of Muslim youth plotting a new attack against the West. The country is in lockdown today, facing what authorities believe is an “imminent attack.” On Sunday, police raided 19 homes in and around Brussels, and made 16 arrests. Brussels continues to be the focus of their action.

There is good reason for this. The Nov. 13 massacres in Paris, we’ve since learned, were planned in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, sometimes called “little Morocco” for its large Moroccan immigrant population. The attack on Charlie Hebdo also was planned there, along with the foiled attack on a Thalys high-speed train between Brussels and Amsterdam. Mehdi Nemmouche, who killed four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum in May 2014, spent time there.

But it isn’t only Molenbeek, and it isn’t only recently. Belgium has been a hotbed of radical Islam for more than a decade, breeding organizations like Sharia4Belgium – one of the most influential “Sharia4” groups globally – and the now-defunct Arab European League (AEL). The goal of the AEL, founded by the Lebanese-Belgian Dyab Abou Jahjah in 2001, was to form a “sharocracy” in which sharia and democracy ruled together across the West. The organization was based in Antwerp, where Jahjah and his friends also celebrated the attacks of 9/11 with laughter. “We couldn’t hold our joy,” he recalled later in his autobiography.

Other signs of radicalism, also connected to Jahjah, soon followed; in 2002, Jahjah helped orchestrate riots in Borgenhout, outside of Antwerp. And in 2004, after establishing a Dutch arm of the AEL, he declared, “I consider every death of an American, British, and Dutch soldier a victory.”

Jahjah was hardly alone. By 2006, Belgian journalist Hind Fraihi, herself a Muslim, discovered that books teaching Muslims to fight infidels were being freely distributed by radical imams who preached jihad in local mosques. Other books she found in Belgium included Guide For Muslims, a Dutch publication that encourages Muslims to throw homosexuals from tall buildings and to beat their wives. A Washington Post profile of Fraihi cited other books she found, including some that “advised readers to learn to communicate in symbols and secret code, and offered tips on how to do that.”

But the largest influence on Belgian Muslims, and the source of much of their extremism, was the creation of Sharia4Belgium in 2010. Thanks to that group, Belgium boasts the largest number of Muslims per capita who have joined the Islamic State and its jihad. According to the Wall Street Journal and others, “dozens” of Sharia4Belgium members have made the pilgrimage to Syria, and dozens more have been detained before they could make the trip. Three of them, all women, were arrested in May 2014, around the time of the Jewish Museum shooting. They were part of a larger group of 40 Belgians planning to join the jihad, and most of them had Sharia4Belgium ties.

This should not have been surprising. By 2012, Belgium’s security service director Alain Winants determined that “radical Islam forms the greatest threat” to the country. Salafism, he told Belgian daily de Morgen, is gaining followers who have built up a parallel community with its own values, its own banks, justice system, and educational program.

Sharia4Belgium’s founder, Fouad Belkacem, was tried and convicted in September 2014 for supporting terrorism, along with dozens of other Sharia4Belgium members, some of whom are still on the Syrian battlefields. But by then it was too late. The group, with its active Dutch- and French-speaking recruiters in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and – most of all – the Internet, had already infiltrated the minds of untold numbers of other Belgian youth.

And still, no one seems to be watching.

This is due in part to limits of Belgium’s intelligence facilities. While German intelligence, for instance, is currently stretched to its limits trying to track potential terrorists, Der Spiegel reports that Belgium’s threat has long since exceeded the its own intelligence capabilities.

Indeed, according to Dutch NOS TV, “the central counterterrorism unit of the [Belgian] police department has only one employee tracking radical [Islamic] activity on the Internet. And she only works part time.” The result, notes Der Spiegel, is that “many Muslims who have become radicalized or received military training and may even have been traumatized are returning home from Syria without anyone checking on them whatsoever.”

Moreover, Belgium’s disorganized police system – with six authorities for 19 districts in Brussels alone – coupled with a chaotic government and the European capital’s convenient location at the midway point between Amsterdam and Paris –combine to help French and Dutch Islamists take refuge there. Two of the Paris attackers, the French-born Bilal Hafdi and Brahim Abdelslam, were among them.

As recently as last month, an exploratory committee determined that Belgian police had failed to notice, let alone monitor, a “jihad camp” set up by Kurdish PKK members and Sharia4Belgium in the Ardennes.

But the truth is, the country’s “capabilities” are only part of the problem: political timidity and correctness carry a good share of the blame. Suspicious behaviors are too often overlooked for fear of being called “racist,” Alain Winants told de Morgen in 2012. That viewpoint has since been echoed in Belgian editorials since the Paris attacks, with journalist Luckas Vander Taelen noting that Molenbeek’s mayor had once called a journalist “Islamophobic” for reporting on the radical Islamic books being distributed there. “There are no problems here,” the mayor insisted at the time.

Since the Nov. 13 attacks, however, Belgium has rounded up dozens of jihadists, with nine raids leading to nine arrests on Thursday preceding Sunday’s additional raids. The speed with which these terrorists were located suggests that authorities were aware of them prior to the events in Paris. So why weren’t they captured earlier? Was it a matter of incompetence? Or a kind of narcissistic concern over image, a fear, as Winants suggests, of being seen as “racist?”

Hopefully, Belgium has now learned its lesson. The fight against terrorism is not a popularity contest. It’s a contest we fight for our lives.

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.

Jihadists killed in Belgian terror swoop were inspired by the murder of Lee Rigby and planned to kidnap a policeman and decapitate him in the street

Belgium terrorists

  • Belgium’s ministry of justice said a ‘second Paris (attack) has been avoided’ after police smash Islamic terror cell 
  • ISIS cell planned to film horrific murder of policeman or judge and circulate the footage online, police sources said
  • Belgian prosecutor says extremists were inspired by murder of Lee Rigby on the streets of Woolwich in 2013
  • Commandos killed two suspected Islamic State jihadists and arrest a third in swoop in eastern town of Verviers
  • Dead suspects believed to be Redouane Hagaoui (Abu Khalid Al Maghribi) and Tarik Jadaoun (Abu Hamza Belgiki) 
  • Terror cell was ‘equipped with Belgian police uniforms, four Kalashnikov machine guns, handguns and explosives’
  • Dozens of simultaneous raids across country were ‘triggered by return of terror kingpin from abroad to Verviers’
  • Some cell members were not at home and could now be at large, source close to the investigation told MailOnline 

The Belgian terror cell who planned to behead a policeman in the street in ‘a second Paris’ attack were inspired by the murder of fusilier Lee Rigby two years ago, the lead investigator has revealed.

Federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt, who coordinated a series of raids on 12 alleged terrorist hideouts across Belgium told Mail Online: ‘Their plan was to launch attacks similar to that in London when a soldier was killed. They wanted to kill policeman on the street .’

The radical Islamic group also wanted to film the horrific murder and then circulate the footage online, bringing the brutality of ISIS to the West, police sources said.

Fusilier Rigby was brutally murdered on the streets of Woolwich in March 2013 by extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale who forced a passer-by to record the aftermath. They are currently serving life in jail for the killing.

Two members of the Belgian terror cell were gunned down by armed officers in Verviers overnight, while a third was overpowered after being wounded.

The group was reportedly equipped with Belgian police uniforms, four Kalashnikov machine guns, handguns and explosives. Another part of their twisted plot included taking a number of hostages by seizing a bus, it was reported by Belgium’s RTL broadcaster.

In total 13 people were arrested in last night’s raids, according to Mr Van der Sypt, but he could not rule out the possibility that others were still at large. He said: ‘As with any investigation of this kind you cannot rule out that there are members that are unaccounted for.’

The dead suspects are believed to be Redouane Hagaoui, 22, also known as Abu Khalid Al Maghribi, and Tarik Jadaoun, who has the alias Abu Hamza Belgiki.

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Published on Jan 16, 2015 by AlohaSnackbar01

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