Lessons from Europe’s amnesia

“…If anything was needed to show up the incompetence of the Belgian authorities it was the fact that it took several months for the police to locate Salah Abdeslam, one of the key “plotters” of the Paris terror attacks, who was living in the heart of Molenbeek, a stone’s throw from the headquarters of the EU. Muslim-majority Molenbeek has the dubious distinction of being the Salafist capital of Europe, if not the entire West, and should have been a principal target of any counterterrorist operation. It was from Molenbeek that the Paris attacks were planned. Further, in the case of the 2004 Madrid train bombings and the attack on the Jewish museum in Brussels in 2014, all roads led to Molenbeek. Yet, given the porosity of Belgium’s laws, the weakness of the authorities and the police as well as their unwillingness to take adequate counterterrorist measures, it was possible for Europe’s most wanted criminal to live there and evade arrest.

Belgium can lay claim to another unsavoury record as well. Statistics suggest that Belgium is Europe’s per capita leading supplier of foreign fighters to the IS. Yet Belgium, even more than most other European nations, has remained blind to the threat posed by the IS — including the pernicious role of returning IS fighters, fresh from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. No effort seems to have been made to understand the primordial pull exerted on Belgian Muslims following the announcement of the IS’s Caliphate, or the impact on them of the collapsing nation-state system in West Asia, essentially in Syria and Iraq.”