The carnage from the airport and the utter destruction of the metro car should send a shutter down the spine of all who see these images, but the frequency of these terror attacks and America’s constant mass shootings make it just another day in paradise.
Contributing to making yesterday less than surprising was the level of law enforcement activity seen in Belgium since the Paris attacks. This has been the front line for picking up ISIS actors involved in the planning of Paris, including the arrest last week of a top suspect.
You could feel a sense that retribution was on its way.
The alarming part is Belgium authorities had already identified some of the perpetrators from yesterday’s attacks and were investigating their Muslim neighborhood in Brussels for over four months but could not put the pieces together.
These guys were hiding in plain sight, along with a bomb-making factory. That is brazen and scary.
While the vast majority of Muslims are not interested in the attitudes and extremist activities of ISIS, al-Qaeda and the like, there seems to be a difference between the philosophy of Muslims in America and those found in Europe.
American-Muslims tend to refer to themselves as Americans first, who follow the Muslim faith. While European-Muslims relate their identity back to their country of origin and their Muslim faith, failing to ever fully integrate into the fabric of their European societies.
This causes numerous problems. One, it’s decidedly more difficult to police suspicious activity if residents don’t believe they have a stake in the future of the region in which they reside. Second, if European Muslims choose to protect radicals that greatly impacts the ability of law enforcement to identify persons of interest.
Outsiders can’t penetrate that wall of silence to identify active terror cells, which is what we saw in Brussels.
Complicating this situation is the ongoing European refugee crisis. Over a million people are sitting in camps, displaced from war-torn regions in Syria and Iraq, as countries figure out where these people can relocate, but there is no way this many individuals can be properly vetted.
Some have come from the battlefields to flee with their families. Whether they are radicalized or not is unknown, but they know how to kill or cause harm. That is something a country would like to know before letting those individuals inside their borders.
Here America does have a distinct responsibility. Basically every legitimate diplomatic and foreign relations organization refuted the dubious evidence presented by the administration of George W. Bush regarding its proposed invasion of Iraq. But America went with the Cheney/Rumsfeld plan, killing Saddam Hussein, creating a power vacuum and destabilizing the region.
Much of the violence since is an American by-product. As everyone told Bush, it’s not the overthrow that’s the problem, it’s the aftermath. Now a solution needs to come about for how to address the innocent who merely want to live away from the violence.
If Europe is going to continue to see multi-front attacks from ISIS and other Middle Eastern extremist groups, then it seems paramount member countries of the European Union establish a joint intelligence apparatus. This would allow for the consolidation of resources and information on terrorist activities that could be utilized to prevent attacks and more quickly identify possible suspects in the aftermath of an incident.
One of the chief criticisms heard today is from France about how difficult it has been to get Belgium to cooperate and share information. That is a crucial element in nations being able to anticipate and interrupt potential militant cells before an attack is carried out.
The United States suffered similar roadblocks prior to Oklahoma City and 9/11, only it was within our government’s own intelligence community where the issues existed. The CIA looked down on the FBI and the NSA thought they were better than anyone else. No one shared intel. That climate was changed out of necessity and it has greatly enhanced the ability of law enforcement to identify suspects and disrupt terror cells.
It appears Europe will have to find this out the hard way. Yesterday 270 people were wounded and 31 died.