Muslim Hate in Belgium
Belgian vice PM acknowledges street celebrations following Brussels attacks
March 30, 2016
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) – In the days following terrorist attacks
in Brussels, street celebrations broke out in several places in
Belgium, the county’s vice prime minister said.
Jan Jambon made the statement about the March 22 bombings, which killed
35 people, on Wednesday during a symposium titled “Terrorism, Israel
and International Law” and organized by the Dutch anti-racism and
pro-Israel lobby group CIDI, or the Center of Information and
Documentation on Israel, in The Hague.
Jambon, a rightist politician, made the remark while acknowledging
Belgium has a jihadism problem. One of Europe’s smallest countries,
Belgium is the continent’s biggest per capita source of jihadists
fighting in Syria and Iraq, CNN reported. In February, Jambon revealed
Belgium’s intelligence services have flagged 451 citizens as jihadists.
But, Jambon said, racial profiling of jihadists is ineffective. He also
said jihadists hail from various backgrounds, “including doctors,
lawyers, and common criminals,” and not only from poor environments.
Only one in six jihadists comes from a poor home in Belgium, he said.
Jambon urged better pan-European cooperation on terrorism.
Jambon’s statement on street celebrations follows criticism of the
media’s failure to cover such events, including by the prime minister
of the Flemish Region, one of the federal Belgian state’s three
autonomous states. Flemish Prime Minister Geer Bourgeois said that
shortly before the attacks, which are believed to have been the work of
Islamic State terrorists, his region’s public broadcaster did not
report on riots by Muslims. The attacks happened four days after the
arrest of Salah Abdelslam, a suspected terrorist alleged to have been
involved in terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris last
“It is, to me, highly shocking that after Abdelslam’s arrest, 200 young
people of foreign origins hurled spontaneously bottles and stones on
our police,” Bourgeois said. “It is regrettable that we saw nothing of
these images on national television news.”
VRT, the Flemish public broadcaster, said it did not report about the
incident for technical reasons and not out of a desire to silence it.
Chilling map reveals how Isis fanatics established network of terror where they could plot under noses of police
• Seeds of the terror attacks in Brussels were planted by childhood friends who grew up near each other
• Police investigating the men behind the massacres in France and Belgium have been led to Molenbeek
• The centre of the deadly network is the Abdeslam family home - a first floor apartment on Gemeenteplaats
• Just round the corner is the home of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the brains behind the Paris attacks in November
• Family home of Mohamed Abrini, 30, who is accused of being involved with the Brussels plot, is also nearby
By JAKE WALLIS SIMONS IN BRUSSELS, BELGIUM FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 06:54 EST, 23 March 2016
The seeds of the terror blasts that shook Europe were planted by a
brotherhood of childhood friends who grew up just a few doors away from
each other in a part of Brussels dubbed the 'crucible of terror'.
Police following the trail of the terrorist murderers behind the
atrocities in France and Belgium have repeatedly arrived at a single
block of housing in Molenbeek, a district of Brussels known as a hotbed
The centre of the deadly network is the Abdeslam family home, a first
floor apartment on Gemeenteplaats, behind the local police station –
and just round the corner from the home of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the
brains behind the Paris attacks.
Abaaoud, the linchpin of the terror cell, was killed in a furious
shootout with police in Saint-Denis, Paris, in the aftermath of the
November massacres. He has emerged as the group's ringleader, along
with Salah Abdeslam.
Brothers Salah and Brahim Abdeslam were involved in the carnage in
Paris, in which Brahim, 31, was killed in a suicide attack on the
Comptoir Voltaire restaurant.
It is understood that Salah, 26, went on the run without detonating his suicide vest.
Salah, who is accused of making the bombs used in the attacks, was
arrested last week round the corner from the family home in a frantic
police raid after four months on the run. He is also thought to have
been involved in the Brussels attacks with a 'new network' of fanatics.
Just a few doors down from the Abdeslam and Abaaoud apartments is the
family home of Mohamed Abrini, 30, who drove the Abdeslam brothers to
Paris to carry out the attacks and is accused of being involved with
the Brussels plot. He remains at large, and police are desperately
trying to track him down.
Abrini is a childhood friend of Salah Abdeslam, and it is thought that
the two became radicalised together. Moreover, Abrini’s younger brother
Souleymane, 20, died in 2014 in Syria while fighting in the same ISIS
military unit as Abaaoud,
Yesterday, a family member at the Abrini property told MailOnline she
was 'in a state of shock' in the aftermath of the latest atrocities,
and feared that Abrini may have once again been involved.
The tight-knit network doesn't end there. A short distance from the
Abdeslam and Abrini residences is the home of Ayoub El Khazzani, the
terrorist who launched the botched gun and bomb attack on the
Amsterdam-to-Paris express train in August last year.
The close bond shared by the band of brothers sheds new light on the
dangers threatening Europe, where the efforts of a small number of
childhood friends can bring the continent to its knees.
It also allows police to piece together the process by which they were
radicalised, and identify which members of the cell were the linchpins
and which were under their spell.
Questions remain about how the gang of young men, all of whom were
Belgian citizens, can have transformed into death-loving monsters,
showing loyalty to each other but a profound hatred of their country
and fellow citizens.
Although Molenbeek is the gang's centre of gravity, last night it
emerged that Salah Abdeslam had moved his operations to Schaerbeek, a
district of Brussels three miles away.
It was there that the notorious bomb factory was located, where the El Bakraoui brothers prepared for Tuesday’s attacks.
Ibrahim El Bakraoui, 30, carried out the airport bombing, and his
younger brother Khalid, 27, blew himself up at Maelbeek Metro on
The terror den, on the fifth floor of a dilapidated apartment block, was found to contain explosive materials and an ISIS flag.
The killer brothers took a taxi to the scene of the attacks with a
fourth ISIS suspect - dubbed the 'Man in White' - who remains at large.
Also involved with the Brussels plot was Najim Laachraoui, who blew
himself up at the airport alongside Ibrahim. He too lived in Schaerbeek.
The twisted Bakraoui brothers rented a flat in the Forest suburb of
Brussels. Armed police raided the address on Tuesday and shot dead
Algerian Mohamed Belkaid.
MailOnline spoke to Mohammed Abdeslam, the prime suspect's brother, outside the family home.
'I can't tell you if my brother was supposed to be involved in today's
attack because if I told you I knew, I'd be in very big trouble right
now,' he said before driving off in his black BMW 4X4.
Meanwhile, Police working in the part of Brussels where terror raids
were carried out last night spoke out about how their pleas for help
Belgian authorities were so focused on nearby Molenbeek, known as a
hotbed of jihadism, that they were unaware that Europe’s most wanted
man was forming a new terror network in Schaerbeek, another
Muslim-dominated area just three miles down the road, they said.
The local community there views police with contempt, they added, and
are unlikely to report terrorists to the authorities even if they do
not have jihadi sympathies themselves.
‘Frankly I wasn’t surprised,’ a policewoman who wished to remain
anonymous told MailOnline. ‘Nobody takes what happens in this district
seriously. Every day we arrest well-known criminals and the next day
they are back on the streets.
‘It is frustrating that we are doing our work but the justice system doesn’t back us up.
‘These people are not being prosecuted or fined, they are just being released. We arrest them and nothing happens to them.
‘One or two hours later they smile and mock us, believing they are on the winning side.’
The ‘lack of respect for police and for Belgium’ in the local
multicultural community meant that the terror cell could operate
without fear of being reported, she added.
This made Schaerbeek – which has been ‘off the radar’ for terror police – the ideal place for a deadly jihadi to hide out.
‘We have been asking for the higher authorities to take this district more seriously but it hasn’t happened,’ she said.
Her commanding officer, who also did not want to be named, agreed. ‘We
have not been blind to the fact that something serious has been going
on here,’ he said.
‘We have several people under surveillance but there are others that are unknown and blending in with the wall.
‘They are deeply embedded in the local community. They know each other and have family here, but nobody says anything.
‘On the surface it can seem like there are no problems, but deeper down there are big problems.’
The officers spoke at the scene of one of the police raids that took
place in the district last night, near the Ahl Allah mosque.
A thick plume of white smoke billowed into the sky as multiple police vans, ambulances and fire engines screamed past.
As police tried to control the throngs of young men of Middle Eastern
and north African descent who had gathered to watch, they were mocked
with hoots and chicken noises.
Masked officers arrested at least three young men before order was restored.
‘There is no terrorist on this street. The police are making it up to
make Muslims look bad,’ said 27-year-old Mohammed, surrounded by
several other young men. ‘It is a set-up.’
But Sofian, 27, said he was worried that the terror investigation in the district would give it a bad name.
‘It was just one or two people who happened to be living here,’ he
said. ‘There are terror cells all over Brussels, not just in
Although Molenbeek has long had a reputation for radical Islamism, it
is Schaerbeek that has been thrown into the spotlight in the latest
stages of the investigation into the Brussels attacks.
Just hours after a series of blasts killed 34 people in the capital and
injured hundreds more, police found a nail bomb, chemicals and an ISIS
flag in a raid on an apartment in the district.
The discoveries were made as officers followed up information that two
suspected terrorists involved in the Paris attacks were holed up in the
Najim Laachraoui, a newly-identified ISIS suspect whose DNA was found
on bombs used in the Paris attacks, rented an apartment in Schaerbeek,
and Paris terror suspect Salah Abdeslam is believed to have been holed
up in an apartment there for three weeks after the massacres in France.
Speculation has surrounded the relationship between the alleged brains behind the Paris attacks and the Brussels atrocities.
There have been suggestions that the attacks were launched as revenge
for his arrest, or that they were brought forward in case Abdeslam
revealed details under interrogation.
But yesterday a senior Belgian official revealed that Abdeslam would
have taken part in today's deadly attacks in Brussels if he hadn't been
The terror suspect was arrested on Friday after a dramatic shootout with police in which he was wounded in the leg.
Suspicions that Abdeslam also masterminded the Brussels atrocities
arose when Belgian police found his fingerprints on detonators intended
for use in the attacks, according to an anonymous source quoted by
The latest revelations come after Belgium's Foreign Minister, Didier
Reynders, told a conference the day after Abdeslam’s arrest that the
jihadi was 'ready to restart something from Brussels' using a new
terror cell he had formed.
'We found a lot of weapons, heavy weapons in the first investigations,
and we have seen a new network of people around him in Brussels,' he
Today, MailOnline spoke to Mohammed Abdeslam, the prime suspect's brother, outside the family home.
'I can't tell you if my brother was supposed to be involved in today's
attack because if I told you I knew, I'd be in very big trouble right
now,' he said before driving off in his black BMW 4X4.
The apartment where his brother was found hiding out and arrested in a
dramatic shootout with police is just a short walk from the Abdeslam
Moreover, the apartment belonging to Mohammed Abrini, thought to be the
man who drove Abdeslam to Paris to carry out the attacks, is just a few
doors down, raising concerns that this is a close-knit cell of
terrorists that have been hiding in plain sight.
Strikes Claimed by ISIS Shut Brussels and Shake European Security
By ALISSA J. RUBIN, AURELIEN BREEDEN and ANITA RAGHAVAN
MARCH 22, 2016
The New York Times
BRUSSELS — Bombs packed with nails terrorized Brussels on Tuesday in
the deadliest assault on the European heartland since the Islamic
State’s attacks on Paris four months ago, hitting the airport and
subway system in coordinated strikes that were also claimed by the
militant extremist group.
The bombings paralyzed Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union
and NATO, prompted international travel warnings to avoid Belgium and
reverberated across the Atlantic to the United States, where New York
and other major cities raised terrorism threat levels. Anxieties
intensified about the inability to prevent mass killings at relatively
At least 30 people were killed by two blasts at the Brussels airport
departure area around 8 a.m. and one in a subway station shortly after
9. The police found at least one other unexploded bomb in a search of a
Brussels house hours later.
And Europe’s most wanted person suddenly became an unidentified man in
a white coat and dark hat seen pushing a luggage cart in an airport
surveillance photo taken just before the bombings. Two other men in the
photo, each wearing a black glove on his left hand, were identified by
Belgian prosecutors as suspected suicide bombers who appeared to have
died in the explosions.
“To those who have chosen to be the barbaric enemies of liberty, of
democracy, of fundamental values, I want to say with the greatest
strength that we will remain assembled and united,” the Belgium prime
minister, Charles Michel, said at a news conference Tuesday evening,
declaring a three-day mourning period.
Francis Vermeiren , the mayor of Zaventem, the Brussels suburb where
the airport is located, was quoted by Agence France-Presse late Tuesday
as saying all three men had arrived in a taxi, putting suitcases that
contained the bombs on luggage carts.
CNN reported on Tuesday night that the police removed bags of evidence
from an apartment in the northeast Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek,
after a taxi driver who saw the photograph of the men told the
authorities that he had taken them from the building to the airport
that morning, with many large bags.
Passengers who had been in line at airport departure counters described
sudden panic and mayhem as the explosions turned the area into a death
trap with flames, smoke, flying glass, nails and shrapnel, leaving at
least 10 people dead.
“We heard a big noise and saw a big flash,” said one passenger, Ilaria
Ruggiano, who had been traveling with six others, including her mother.
“My mother went to the floor — she was hit. I just dropped my luggage
and went to the floor. A kid came out, bleeding a lot. I tried to help
him with a tissue, but it was not enough. There were two bombs.”
The airport was closed, disrupting and diverting dozens of flights and
leaving hundreds of passengers stranded, and the Belgian authorities
placed the entire metropolitan area on emergency lockdown. It was not
clear when the airport would reopen; the Belgian authorities said it
was certain to remain closed Wednesday because of the investigation.
Then at 9:11 a.m. — the timing may just have been an eerie coincidence
— a bomb tore through a car in the rear part of a subway train pulling
out of the busy Maelbeek station at the height of the morning rush,
killing at least 20 people.
“We felt a boom; we felt the building tremble,” said Henk Stuten, 50,
who works for the European Commission in an office above the station.
“We saw through the windows that people were rushing out of the metro
More than 230 people, including people from around the world, were wounded in the three blasts.
In the afternoon, Amaq, a news agency affiliated with the Islamic
State, issued a bulletin claiming responsibility for the attacks,
calling them the work of suicide bombers.
Frédéric Van Leeuw, the Belgian federal prosecutor, said at a news
conference on Tuesday night that “at this stage, it is not possible to
draw a formal link with the Paris attacks.” A cell of 10 operatives, a
number of them from the Brussels district of Molenbeek, were implicated
in the Paris attacks on Nov. 13, which left 130 people dead. The
Brussels strikes came only a few days after the Belgian police captured
Salah Abdeslam, the only suspect in the Paris assaults believed to have
survived, who is considered a potential trove of information.
The State Department on Tuesday warned Americans traveling in Europe to
“exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass
transportation.” Terrorist groups, the department travel alert said,
“continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting
sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants and transportation.”
The threat of further bombings was underscored by the official warnings
for people in Brussels to remain indoors, as an intensive search was
underway by the police in the Brussels area into Tuesday evening. The
federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement that one of the
searches, in Brussels’s Schaerbeek district, led to the discovery of
“an explosive device containing nails, among other things.” The
statement said “chemical products and a flag of the Islamic State” also
had been found there.
Late Tuesday, the Belgian Federal Police released new photographs of
the suspected suicide bombers and asked people to contact the agency if
they recognized them. The public call suggested that whatever
information investigators had gathered at the scene, such as DNA, had
not yet yielded information allowing them to identify the men or they
were unknown to the Belgian authorities.
The heightened security in Belgium extended to two nuclear plants, Doel
and Tihange, where nonessential workers were sent home, although the
plants remained operational. Ine Wenmaekers, a spokesman for the
Belgian nuclear regulatory agency, said that the step was precautionary
and that “there was no direct threat to the power plants.”
World leaders reacted with horror and calls for solidarity, though the
attacks also spotlighted the fractious debate over terrorism and Islam
in Europe and in the American political campaign. The Eiffel Tower and
the Burj Khalifa in Dubai were among the world landmarks lit up in the
black, red and yellow of Belgium’s flag as night fell.
“Through the Brussels attacks, it is the whole of Europe that is hit,”
President François Hollande of France declared. He vowed “to
relentlessly fight terrorism, both internationally and internally.”
The French government ordered 1,600 extra police officers to patrol the
nation’s borders, including at train stations, airports and ports.
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain called an emergency meeting of
ministers. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany said the
attacks “aim at the heart of Europe.” Pope Francis expressed
President Obama, speaking in Havana, called the Brussels attacks “yet
another reminder that the world must unite, we must be together,
regardless of nationality or race or faith, in fighting against the
scourge of terrorism.”
But a Russian official tempered sympathy with a scolding of his
European colleagues over their policies on migration and terrorism. “It
is time for Europe to understand where the real threat is coming from,
and to unite its efforts with Russia,” Aleksei K. Pushkov, the chairman
of the foreign affairs committee in Parliament, wrote on Twitter.
Since the Paris attacks, security experts have warned that Europe was
likely to face additional assaults by the Islamic State and by other
The Paris attacks showed that the scale and sophistication of the
Islamic State’s efforts to carry out operations in Europe were greater
than first believed, and analysts have pointed to Europe’s particular
vulnerabilities. They include the huge flow of undocumented migrants
from the Middle East last year; the unimpeded movement of European
citizens between their home countries, neighboring countries and Syria
to fight with the Islamic State; and persistent problems with
intelligence-sharing among European countries and even between
competing security agencies in some nations.
Few countries have been more vulnerable than Belgium. Among European
countries, Belgium has the highest proportion of citizens and residents
who have traveled to Syria or Iraq, insular Muslim communities that
have helped shield jihadists, and security services that have had
persistent problems conducting effective counterterrorism operations,
not least in their four-month effort to capture Mr. Abdeslam.
Photographs and amateur video posted online showed the Brussels airport
passengers covered in blood and soot, looking stunned but conscious.
Some passengers were seen being taken away on luggage carts.
Jérôme Delanois said he was at an Internet cafe near the Delta Air
Lines counter when he heard a thunderous noise. “There were two
explosions — one big one and one little one,” he said. “The first one
blew all the walls and everything. There were burning flames. The first
one was bigger. It blew out all the windows.”
Most of the wounded in the subway blast were evacuated to the Rue de la
Loi, outside the station, which serves the area that hosts most of the
European Union’s core institutions.
Brian Carroll, 31, a communications consultant from Washington, said he
was on a subway car near Maelbeek en route to a conference in downtown
Brussels when he heard a loud blast.
“As we were pulling into the station, there was suddenly a loud
explosion,” he said in a phone interview. “There was smoke everywhere.
Everyone dropped to the ground. People were screaming and crying.”
Mr. Carroll said he had remained on the ground for one or two minutes,
then got up, pried open a door of the subway car with his hands and
“I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to get out of here,’ ” he said. “I
headed toward an exit. There was smoke and soot everywhere. There was
glass everywhere. It was like running through a cloud of dust. I saw
the exit of the station was destroyed. I ran out of the station; I ran
as far as I could.”
Belgian Muslim head to be tried for inciting riot
A judge on Thursday ordered a prominent Muslim leader and founder of a
Belgian-Dutch Islamic political organization to stand trial along with two other
group members on charges of inciting a riot in 2002 in Antwerp.
Dyab Abou Jahjah, a Lebanese-born Belgian, and the two other men are
accused of helping fuel several nights of violence by North African immigrants
in Antwerp, angered by the fatal shooting of a teacher of Moroccan origin in
November 2002. The rioters rampaged through a largely immigrant neighborhood,
hurling rocks and scuffling with police, though no one was seriously injured.
At a pretrial hearing, the judge said there was enough evidence against
the men to go ahead with the trial.
The judge, however, ruled against an attempt by prosecutors to label Abou
Jahjah's Arab European League a militia, a designation that would effectively
ban the organization.
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