Now that the dust has settled and the airport has re-opened, some analysis on what happened on March 22 in Brussels, and what may be coming next.
First, why Brussels? Given the city’s history to this point with disaffected Muslim populations, unfortunately, this was not at all surprising, particularly after the post-Paris investigations uncovered even more links to Brussels than previously suspected. Why couldn’t the police find out ahead of time and stop it? Institutional failings, within the Belgian and European police systems, but also the high rate of crime among this population in Brussels, making the numbers of people that perhaps merit increased observation logistically difficult.
Why March 22? Well, given the above high possibility of the city being targeted, the day itself may have been pushed up as retaliation for the arrest of the last surviving member of the Paris attacks a few days prior. Likeliest is a combination of retaliation and fear, that the longer he was in custody, the more plans, including perhaps this one, could be discovered and disrupted. This is a decent explanation for why the police have since found so many explosive ingredients hidden by the underground network; they hadn’t had time to use them yet.
So far, the most important information that the multiple arrests and raids have found is that the network that various European police and intelligence agencies knew existed in Belgium and through Belgium is likely larger than previously feared, and even more difficult to tackle.
Also, the role of family, brothers in particular, is coming under increased scrutiny, as the majority of the terrorists involved in attacks on the West in the last few decades have been intricately related, and there is case after case of brothers acting together. Why? We still don’t know, though perhaps next Trump will endorse Russia’s long-standing policy of targeting the families of suspected terrorists as an attempt at deterrence.