A night of terror

Jonathan Falls

At 7:58 a.m. on the morning of
March 22, 2016, two bombs were
detonated in the main departures
hall at the Brussels International
Airport. Billowing smoke and blasted
out windows could be seen from the
exterior of the structure.
A couple of minutes later people
could be seen running from the
destruction. First responders could
also be seen rushing to the scene.
At around 9:00 a.m., the Belgian
government raised the country’s
terror threat to the highest level.
At 9:10 a.m., a third explosion
occurred in the Maalbeek metro station,
not far from the European Commission and
Parliament buildings. People could be
seen escaping on foot through the metro
tunnel.
Many of the people in the station
were reading about the terror at
the airport on their phones and
then all of a sudden they themselves
became the victims of an attack.
Brussels, a city of over 1.1 million
people, came to a sudden standstill.
All public transport was banned,
people were advised not to venture
outside, and armed police and soldiers
of the Belgian army could be seen
guarding government buildings and
patrolling the streets in armored vehicles.
Hospitals were full of severely injured
and traumatized patients. The death count
was later totaled at 32 victims and
three perpetrators. There were also
over 300 non-fatal injuries.
As the city came to grips with what
had just happened, questions began to
arise of the details of the attacks. The
first: who committed the attacks?
There were three attackers who
detonated bombs at the airport. Najim
Laachraoui and Ibrahim El Bakraoui
both detonated the bombs and died
in the attacks. The third attacker, Mo-
hamed Abrini, survived the attacks
and could be seen running from the
airport after the explosions.
Khalid El Bakraoui was responsible
for detonating the bomb at the Maal-
beek metro station. He died along
with the victims.
After the attacks, Belgian authori-
ties began conducting raids across
the country. They found a number of
terrorists with connections to the at-
tackers in Brussels and even to the ter-
rorists responsible for the Paris terror
bombings.
The third terrorist at the airport
bombing (the one who escaped alive),
Mohamed Abrini, was put on Europe
and INTERPOL’s most wanted list. He
was arrested in Brussels on April 8 and
is currently facing trial.
The question now comes to how
and why did these terrorists commit
the attacks in Brussels?
Security at European airports has
been greatly increased ever since the
Paris attacks in 2015, however the
Brussels terrorists found a loophole.
They detonated their bombs in the de-
partures hall before the main security
screeners and checkpoints. They were
able to hide the bombs in suitcases and
evaded the metal detectors.
After the bombing at the airport,
security experts around the world be-
gan calling for more security before
the main security screening point.
With regards to the bombing in the
metro station, the bomber took ad-
vantage of a public transport line that
was packed with people. Metros and
subways around the world are vul-
nerable because it is just not feasible
to screen every passenger in a timely
manner.
Looking back at the bombings,
many security experts were not sur-
prised that the attacks occurred in
Brussels.
Belgium is an active participant in
the coalition against ISIS. Brussels is
the headquarters of the EU parliament
and commission. NATO headquarters
is also located in Brussels. Belgium’s
role in the fight against ISIS and the
major international organizations
headquartered in Brussels make Brus-
sels an ideal target for terrorism.
Belgium has more citizens fighting
for radical Islamic terror groups as a
proportion of the population than any
other Western European nation. It is
estimated that over 400 Belgian citi-
zens have left the country to go fight
in Syria and Iraq.
Some of the terrorists come back to
Belgium and form terror cells inside of
the country. The Brussels terrorists all
came from the neighborhood of Mo-
lenbeek in Brussels. This area of the
city has become notorious as a breed-
ing ground for terrorists.
As more and more details about the
bombings have come out, citizens of
Brussels and of Belgium have begun
to recover. A couple of days after the
bombings, people began to go back to
work and school. The metro system
reopened a few days after the attacks
and on April 3; the Brussels Airport
began the resumption of flights.

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