The Brussels airport attack has close links to the terror cell that carried out the November Paris attack. With investigative agencies working on the Belgium attack, a clear link is emerging between the networks that carried out the Paris attacks last November.
“All three suspected suicide bombers in the Brussels attacks had known links to the terror cell behind November’s carnage in Paris, and one was flagged as an Islamist militant and deported from Turkey last June,” the Guardian reported.
Investigators identified the three suicide bombers who attacked Brussels airport and a metro train. The search is on for a fourth suspect, 25-year-old Najim Laachraoui, whose suitcase bomb failed to detonate. Laachraoui is a suspected Islamic State recruiter and bombmaker.
Belgium airport attacks introduced fresh challenges for Europe to track terror suspects across borders, and especially for Belgium’s ability to deal with jihadi terror. It has come to light that the Paris attacks were planned in Belgium.
According to the Guardian, “Belgium ignored Turkey’s warnings that Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, who blew himself up in Tuesday’s attacks, was a foreign fighter.”
The capture of Salah Abdeslam in Belgium, a key surviving suspect in the Paris attacks, has given fresh leads to investigative agencies on the support network of alleged ISIS terror cells inside European cities.
“Abdeslam made several trips across Europe and has been seen as the logistics expert at the center of the Islamic State cell and its web of hideouts across Belgium,” BBC News reported.
Reportedly, Salah Abdeslam was closely involved in the planning and execution of the Paris attacks, where his brother Brahim blew himself up. Belgium police captured Abdeslam in the Molenbeek area of Brussels on March 18. Abdeslam grew up in Molenbeek, and a large number of Belgians from Molenbeek are allegedly fighting for the ISIS in the Middle East.
Following the Belgium attacks, ISIS claimed responsibility for the terror forcing the capital into a day-long shutdown. The attacks triggered heightened security across European airports and drew an outpouring of condemnation from across the world.
Thousands of mourners gathered around an improvised shrine with candles in Brussels. Meanwhile, the airport attack reignited political debate across the globe on the strategies to combat terrorism.
The fresh attacks also rekindled the debate about the porous European security cooperation and gaps in security surveillance. The nature of attacks shows ISIS is gaining the logistics to target different European cities on this scale.
Reports say that ISIS has between 400 and 600 mercenaries inside Europe who operate in autonomous cells and have the logistics to strike anywhere and anytime.
It is pertinent to note that the profile of the suspected terrorists involved in recent attacks shows young men of immigrant origin vulnerable to ISIS recruitment drive. These youths from impoverished Muslim-majority immigrant neighborhoods had allegedly dabbled in petty crimes and drug business before turning to terrorism.
The coordinated attacks in Belgium killed at least 31 people and wounded hundreds, which came just days after the capture of terror massacre suspect Abdeslam. According to the Independent, investigations found a network of hideouts across France and Belgium, which includes a bomb-making factory inside a flat.
Meanwhile, European security chiefs will hold an emergency meeting in Brussels on Thursday to discuss future strategies in the fight against terrorism.
Despite the increased counter-terrorism efforts, security agencies in Europe reportedly experience “inter-agency rivalries for legal, practical or territorial reasons,” said a New York Times editorial.
European governments need more homework and coordination on intelligence sharing between law enforcement agencies to deal with the terror threat as Brussels and Paris attacks stay in focus.
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