Flowers and candles in front of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Warsaw, Poland after the attacks in Brussels on March 22, 2016
A GUIDEPOST Report
Text source: Wikipedia
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•The bombings on 22 March 2016 were the deadliest act of terrorism to occur on Belgian soil.
•CNN: Belgium is a “hotbed of jihadist ideology.”
•The Wall Street Journal: It’s a “jihadist-recruiting hub.”
•All taxis in Brussels transported passengers free of charge during the public transportation lockdown after the attacks.
•The Belgian government warned that possible perpetrators might still be at large.
•The U.S. Embassy in Brussels warned of the possibility of more attacks occurring.
On 22 March 2016, three explosions occurred in Belgium: two at Brussels Airport in Zaventem and one at Maelbeek metro station, Maelbeek killing 34 people in all and injuring 230. It was the deadliest act of terrorism to occur on Belgian soil.
The Belgian government declared three days of national mourning.
An assault rifle and a third bomb were found in a search of the airport. The bomb was later destroyed in a controlled explosion.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attacks.
There were two explosions in the Brussels Airport international departure hall shortly after 08:00 local time, one near the American Airlines and Brussels Airlines check-in desks and the other next to a Starbucks coffee shop. Significant damage was reported inside the building.
It was reported that shouts in Arabic preceeded the explosions. An airport worker said he “heard someone yelling in Arabic before the blasts”.
Belgium’s federal prosecutor confirmed that the explosions with nail bombs were carried out by a suicide bomber. CCTV footage at the airport showed three men who the police believe were responsible for the bombings there; two of the men are believed to be deceased from suicide bombings, while the third is believed to be on the run.
Fourteen people were killed and 100 were injured at the airport.
The Belgian government put the country on its highest national threat level.
MAELBEEK METRO STATION/MAELBEEK
An explosion took place at 09:11 CET in the middle carriage of a three-carriage train near the European Commission headquarters complex in the centre of Brussels, about seven miles from Brussels Airport. The Brussels Metro system was subsequently shut down.
Twenty people were killed in the metro station. In addition, 130 were injured, 17 of them critically.
Belgium is an active participant in the ongoing military intervention against ISIL in Iraq. Belgium also has the highest number per capita of foreign fighters in Syria, with nearly 500 having left for Syria and Iraq as of 2016. The fighters are mostly the descendants of immigrants.
CNN has called Belgium a “hotbed of jihadist ideology”, while The Wall Street Journal has called Belgium a “jihadist-recruiting hub”.
Several Islamist terrorist attacks had originated from Belgium, and a number of counter-terrorist operations had been carried out there. In May 2014, a gunman with ties to the war in Syria attacked the Jewish Museum of Belgium, killing four. In January 2015, anti-terrorist operations, conducted against a group thought to be planning a second Charlie Hebdo shooting, included actions in Brussels and Zaventem, resulting in the deaths of two suspects. In August 2015, a suspected terrorist committed a shooting and stabbing attack aboard a Thalys train in Brussels, before being subdued by passengers.
The assailants involved in the Islamist November 2015 Paris attacks were based in Molenbeek.
On 18 March 2016, Salah Abdeslam, a suspected accomplice in the aforementioned Paris attacks, was captured in two anti-terrorist raids in Molenbeek that killed another suspect and injured two others. At least one other suspect remains at large.
Two as-of-yet unidentified men carried out suicide bombings at Brussels Airport. A third man seen with them in airport security footage is currently at large.
Hours after the attacks, police raided a home in Schaarbeek, a northern suburb of Brussels, where they found a nail bomb, chemicals, and an ISIL flag. One man was taken into custody, though it is unknown if he is the third suspect sought by police.
After the attack, the airport was closed, and all departures and rail transport to the airport were cancelled. According to the airport manager, the airport will remain closed until Thursday. All inbound flights were either cancelled or diverted to nearby airports including Brussels Charleroi, Ostend-Bruges International Airport and Schiphol in Amsterdam.
The country is on its highest national threat level.
All public transport in the Belgian capital was shut down as a result of the attacks and all Eurostar trains to Brussels Midi station were suspended. All trains from Paris to Brussels were also cancelled.
According to Belgian broadcaster VRT, all taxis in Brussels transported passengers free of charge during the public transportation lockdown.
The Belgian government warned that possible perpetrators might still be at large and urged citizens to use social media before trying to reach friends and family via telephone services.
Temporary border controls comprising vehicle searches were implemented by Belgian and French authorities at some major border crossings exiting Belgium into France. Contrary to some media reports, the border was not closed.
Many world leaders voiced their condemnation of the attacks. A number of countries and their leaders expressed thoughts and condolences.
Shortly after the news of explosions, Israel issued a ban on all inbound flights from Europe until midnight Israel time.
Additional police have been deployed to the Belgian border of the Netherlands. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated that, though there is no imminent threat of terrorism to the Netherlands, there will be additional police at the four main train stations and the border train stations, the general border with Belgium and at the Binnenhof.
Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels warned of the possibility of more attacks occurring and recommended “sheltering in place and avoiding all public transportation” for Belgian citizens.
The French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve indicated France will increase the presence of security forces at their borders, and enforce the carrying of identity cards on public transport.
In the United Kingdom, security was increased at London transport hubs, as well as Manchester Airport. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK said that the Belgian authorities are currently advising against travel to Brussels.
In Germany, authorities strengthened security at major traffic junctions.
In Denmark, the police strengthened security at Copenhagen Airport and Aalborg Airport.
> Featured image by Mateusz Opasiński (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Mateusz_Opasi%C5%84ski), CC BY-SA 4.0 Int’l
> ISIL flag by Yo (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Yascine), PD
> Brussels Airport early morning by Ad Meskens (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Ad_Meskens), CC BY SA 3.0
> Maalbeek metro station by bsubway.net (http://www.bsubway.net/pictures/p_mael04.jpg), CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported
> President Obama, official White House photo by Pete Souza
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