This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Terrorism Recruitment Central : Belgium

The people who panicked the most were the police and the military. They were running around like chickens with their heads cut off for fifteen minutes."
"You'd think they'd have planned for something like this. It took hours before we had a disaster relief."
Didier Marchal, arrival in Brussels from Toronto

"It was very spectacular. I was right near the second blast. I heard the first one, quickly tried to get away and the second one was nearby, right near me. I've had this buzzing my ear I can't get rid of."
"We're in Europe and it took a fraction of a second to come to terms with what had happened. A first explosion, you move. A second, it's obvious it's [an attack] and you hurry up."
Salome Corbo, Quebec actress at Air Canada counter, Brussels Airport

"I assumed it was training, but some litter was in the air, so I was not sure if it was a terrorist act. Seconds later, a much more heavy, heavy detonation happened, some distance [away], but much more heavy. This was the moment I realized this was a terrorist act."
"The first detonation, very few people got panicked. The others didn't realize what happened, or they looked around. But the second explosion was much more heavy -- panic, crying and everywhere this dirty dust, like from concrete."
Ralph Usbeck, electronics technician from Berlin
Members of Molenbeek's Muslim community attend Friday prayers at Attadamoun Mosque.
Members of Molenbeek's Muslim community attend Friday prayers at Attadamoun Mosque. CNN

Investigative reporters ascertained very quickly after the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris when 130 people were killed in a coordinated series of attacks, that the man imputed to be the details man, Salah Abdeslam, who was himself equipped with a suicide pack, but decided that planning suited him far better than execution, left it behind and fled back to his old home neighbourhood of Molenbeek, Belgium, French citizenship notwithstanding.

There, he melted into the 100,000-strong mostly Moroccan Muslim community, reuniting with parents and with friends and with co-conspirators and with sympathizers. He was sufficiently secure there among those who knew him and supported his Islamist jihadist enterprise that he could relax, free of fears of detection, for three months, despite the enhanced military presence and the searches and the arrests taking place all around him.

Nothing quite like trusted friends for those escaping justice. And nothing quite like an estimated 20,000 Islamic State sympathizers ensconced amid unaffected Muslims in a large immigrant enclave to hamper the ability of a security ring in their desperate attempts to infiltrate a tightly-knit network of state-impervious, resentful outsiders for whom the Belgian state represents a place to stay, not one where one melds into the prevailing society, accepting its values and its laws.

There is Islam and there is all else, and all else is trifling. A conspiracy of non-cooperation is the order the day, irrespective of what sinister drama the day brings. Two days ago, the drama consisted of bombing missions yet again and 34 dead, 200 wounded in attacks on the airport and rail system in Brussels and all is still in its suburb, Molenbeek. Without human intelligence capable of infiltrating the inner circles there can be no advance warning.

The suspicion loomed large that the Paris attacks were a foretaste of what was yet to come. Salah Abdeslam had, after all, boasted to a relative that he knew of at least 90 jihadis prepared to act on yet other planned attacks. The November 13 spectacular was attributed to Abdeslam's good friend Abdelhamid Abaaoud, another Belgian, masterminding it, and killed by French police days after the attack, in a Paris raid.
A woman holds a piece of paper reading "Molenbeek" during a candlelit vigil to the victims of the Paris attacks in Brussels.
A woman holds a piece of paper reading "Molenbeek" during a candlelit vigil to the victims of the Paris attacks in Brussels. CNN
For most immigrants to another country prepared to settle there and become a part of the social and political landscape, 50 years is more than adequate to accomplish all of that, to see children and grandchildren proud and productive citizens. For the Moroccan and Turkish Muslims who made that trip to Belgium a half-century ago, it's been another story, one of alienation and suspicion, an unwillingness to become as the hosts are and meld with the indigenous culture.

There is an insularity in the Muslim community, a resistance, a remoteness from the prevailing social contract, since the Koran does not after all, give its blessing to assimilation. Assimilation is to proceed in the opposite direction; to absorb non-Muslims into Islam through conversion however it succeeds. Or to engulf a non-Muslim society into the sheer prevailing numbers of the Muslim ummah and allow the 'people of the Book' the option of living under Islam as tax-paying inferiors.

So though Muslims may complain that they are disadvantaged in the welcoming society, in its job market, they make scant effort to pattern themselves to match the culture they have joined or to learn the languages required in the job market to be fully functional. So resentment is bred, and alienation leads to radicalization or the support of it and this describes Molenbeek, thought of as the centre of radical Islam jihadis in Europe.

"It doesn't surprise me, because radical and political Islam in Belgium is something that grew up through the years", observed Bilal Benyaich, senior fellow at the Itinera Institute. Who took pains to refer to the funding from Saudi Arabia in the 1970s used to set up Wahhabi-style madrasses, teaching the Salafist brand of Islam to young Muslims, inculcating them with the political culture that has led to a renaissance of violent Islamism.

Some 500 Belgian citizens travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with the Islamic State, leaving Belgium with the questionable distinction of being the largest exporters of foreign ISIL fighters in Europe. Leading the attempts to recruit foreign fighters is a cleric, Fouad Belkacem with Sharia4Belgium. Belgium is also, coincidentally considered a regional hub for arms smuggling.

"Belgium is a federal state and that's always an advantage for terrorists. Having several layers of government hampers the flow of information between investigators", pointed out Edwin Bakker, professor, the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

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