Belgium Under Attack
Massive Terror Attack Shocks Brussels
Arts & Culture Editor
On March 22nd, the Departure Hall of Brussels Airport and the Maalbeek metro station suffered a bombing that killed 35 people, seven of whom have yet to be identified, and injured over three hundred. A twin internal blast hit the airport in the morning only to be followed by the metro attack two hours later. Five perpetrators have been identified as suspects by the Belgian police. Three have been declared deceased but two suspects remain at large. In fact, on Monday, March 28th, the man thought to be the third unknown airport bomber was released by the Belgian Federal Prosecutor following a lack of evidence needed to retain him (BBC News).
Belgium has been an important battleground over the centuries. In fact, it was occupied by Germany during both the First and Second World Wars. Despite the economic boom it has experienced within the past 50 years (WorldPress), there has been a growing divide between the North, known for speaking Dutch, and the French-speaking South. The resulting tensions invite speculation that the country might split up (BBC News).
Furthermore, Brussels, the capital of Belgium, holds the headquarters of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), making it a major target, because attacks not only impact Belgium but potentially the rest of the world. BBC News claims the city to be filled with international diplomats and civil servants, making the bombings and further threats even more impactful.
The events of March 22nd have been classified as the worst recorded act of terrorism in Belgium. Belgium has not always been stable, as it holds a population divided between the Flammands and the Wallons communities. Though Belgium has generally been a peaceful country, the attacks bring up a newfound concern following the impact of the Paris attacks in November of 2015 (CNN).
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an extremist Salafi jihadist militant group that identifies with the Wahhab doctorine of Sunni Islam, has claimed responsibility for the attacks. They have been recognized for their terror tactics that include videos of journalist and civilian beheadings. The group’s actions have been condemned by Islamic religious leaders across the world (BBC News). Additionally, over sixty countries have directly or indirectly waged war against the organization.
The airport has been closed and has yet to be fully reopened. Belgian police has been increased and soldiers line the streets near the subway entrances. The subway lines have started to open again but are still limited as they close at 7PM. Overnight workers have installed screens and plastic to cover up the bomb damage, shielding train passengers from the wreckage. Adding security has been controversial in the city, some finding it comforting while others still find it threatening in that it brings war a little too close to home.
Belgium’s Prime Minister insists that his country needs to concentrate on improving its fight against terrorism. As for whether or not he can keep that promise, we’ll have to wait and see.