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Brussels: One More Reminder of a Growing Threat

Daniel Scrivener '18, Contributor

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On March 22, 2016, during the early hours of an unassuming Tuesday morning, tragedy struck fear into the hearts of the citizens of Brussels, Belgium. Shortly before 8:00 AM local time, suicide bombers attacked Brussels Airport, a transportation hub serving millions of passengers each year. The two bombs were detonated within seconds of each other in the departure area. The initial blasts killed around ten people and injured dozens.

Unfortunately, the crisis had not ended. Just an hour later, a bomb exploded in the second car of a metro train entering Maelbeek station. Another chaotic scene unfolded as authorities arrived in an attempt to save the incapacitated and terrified citizens. By the end of these events, an estimated twenty people had died, a number that has since climbed into the thirties. It was a horrendous event, and one that illustrates the security problems in Belgium and abroad that allowed for something like this to take place.

During the investigation following the attacks, authorities ventured to the apartment of the suspects identified using security footage, Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim El Bakraoui, brothers who had been picked up by a taxi driver at the location assumed to be their residence. Inside the apartment, investigators stumbled upon a scene unimaginable in such a typical environment: a makeshift bomb factory. Among other things, 15 kilograms of TATP were found, along with the flag of ISIS. It was clear to see that these individuals had not been operating alone, driven by personal motivations, but rather under a much larger group. A third suspect was also identified in the footage as having been involved in the attacks, but his identity is currently unknown.
It should be noted that the emergency response to these attacks was effective, especially at the airport. Another, potentially more dangerous explosive was also planted there by the suspects, but exploded only after authorities had arrived and cleared the scene. Their timely and efficient response likely saved lives in this situation. Yet the entire incident as a whole begs the question: how was this allowed to happen? Surely, one would assume that large-scale operations such as the production of explosives would have been quickly detected and shut down by authorities. However, as can be seen here, this is not the case. It is suspected that a larger group affiliated with ISIS in Brussels allowed the trio to prepare and carry out these attacks. Clearly, this incident reveals that the number of individuals belonging to these organizations residing in areas such as Belgium has been underestimated.

It is not news that ISIS has been growing in power. The alarming number of attacks worldwide attests to this, with places like Paris, the United States, and Turkey affected. Indeed, this incident perhaps seems merely as if it is one more piece of “breaking news”, one more statistic, one more horrific badge for ISIS to wear as it attempts to spread its malicious aims and principles. However, the extent of this calamity cannot be ignored. Terrorism is never taken lightly, but such an elaborate and complicated scheme suggests that there are serious security problems to be addressed. As ISIS only continues to grow stronger, the sorrows of Brussels and other nations affected by terrorism must serve as a reminder to remain vigilant against these threats to global stability, and to remember all those that have lost lives in the struggle against this terrible force.

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Brussels: One More Reminder of a Growing Threat