What Makes Belgium Attractive to Terrorist?

Four days after Salah Abdeslam, the principal escapee in the Paris attacks, was captured in Brussels, shocking terrorist attacks have tore through Brussels international airport in Belgium, according to report.

Before ISIS admitted responsibility for the atrocious attacks, the operation bore marks of possible retaliation from other terrorist cells across the country that desperately needed to make the authorities feel their anger for seizing Salah.

Belgium is in a strategic location between, France, Germany and UK. In about two hours one can cross Belgium by car and because Belgium is part of the Schengen area its flanks are porous, making it very easy for terrorists to enter and leave the country quickly. So Brussels, Belgium’s bustling capital has almost become a perfect hiding place for, not only terrorist struggles but their sympathizers – especially individuals, willing to give a helping hand to conspirators.

Immediately after the last Paris attack, suspected terrorists including Salah bolted into Brussels and finally slipped through the fingers of Belgian police confirming the alleged incompetence of its law enforcement agents.

With the gruesome and appalling attacks at Brussels international airport in the early hours of Tuesday, it is clear that Brussels has moved from being a terrorist sanctuary to a hothouse of mindless bloodshed.

Why does Belgium appeal to terrorists?

Molenbeek – one of Brussels’ 19 districts– has a population of about 100,000, with around 30% of foreign nationality and more than 40% with foreign roots. Report has it that unemployment is higher than 25%, with youth unemployment even higher. Young inhabitants, often with Muslim backgrounds, do not get the same chances in the labour or housing market, and complain how they are being discriminated against, in their daily life.

So is Belgium paying the price of its failure to integrate large parts of its Muslim minority? But that is not peculiar to Belgium alone. No European country with a large Muslim minority has solved the problem of integration. Britain and France take different approaches, but each has been attacked by ‘home bred’ terrorists too. Towns like Gothenburg, in Sweden are partially segregated; towards the end of 2015, its government reversed on its asylum policy. Even Germany, which was bold on its own experiment in integration after having welcomed hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, has struggled to accept that it is a land of immigration rather than ‘guest-workers’. In each of these countries and others, anti-immigration chants and slogans are rife; in some, they are screaming from the rooftops.

The current attacks have exposed the despondent side of Belgium’s negligence, in the form of shambolic security services and neglected areas like Molenbeek, a bedraggled Muslim-majority in west Brussels. Molenbeek has become a global byword for jihadism, but similar problems exist throughout the country: an amorphous Antwerp-based group called Sharia4Belgium inspired dozens of young Belgians to leave for Syria. A higher share of the Belgian population has left to join the fight in Syria or Iraq than from any other EU country.

However, the myriad challenges Belgium is facing are not only immigration; the country is also known for its dysfunctional politics. Belgium is politically fragmented and vulnerable to terrorist designs and attacks; given its underworld crime aided by peevish politicians who trade blames rather than take responsibility in times of crisis the rest of Europe should rise and face the spectre of terrorism which has become a 21st Century reality.

Two decades ago the main terrorist threat in Europe emanated from outside its borders. A decade ago it was coordinated attacks by al-Qaeda, or bands encouraged by it. But European terrorism has now evolved into something appalling, ghoulish and acrimonious. And it is ‘home grown’ and targeted at all members of the society.

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