The recent burst of March 22, 2016 at Brussels has some unique significance. it is ‘an iconic date in Belgian history’. We in Belgium felt it was only a matter of time before such a thing would happen though the actual event came as a shock. There were several reasons for this. These are:
1.Militants of the Islamic State, the self-styled caliphate, are acutely aware of Islamic history, and that contains one reason, dim to us but very vivid to them. ISIS statements about the attacks identify the victims as ‘crusaders’, and Belgium is indeed strongly identified with the crusades.
The First Crusade was led by the proto-Belgian earl Godfrey of Bouillon, who became the first king of Jerusalem in 1099; his equestrian statue adorns the highest place in Brussels, next to the Royal Palace. The Crusader elite corps of the Knights Templar had a tactical alliance with the Assassins, a Shia militia dedicated to fighting the (Sunni) Caliphate. Today, the neo-caliphate (ISIS) is continuing that thousand-year-old struggle against both Shia and Crusaders.
2.The second reason is the symbolic value of Brussels as containing the headquarters of both the EU and NATO, incarnations of armed infidelism. The caliphate is at war with these entities, and Belgium is among the Western nations bombing the Iraqi part of the caliphate.
3.The third reason is the relative laxity of the Belgian authorities. Within Belgium itself, when compared to the second city, Antwerp, the administration of Brussels counts as undisciplined, chaotic and corrupt. The over-all Belgian standard is not so good either, as the security forces are badly underfunded. For decades, whenever budget cuts have been considered, the Army has served as a milch-cow. Soldiers are not expected to complain, but the result is that today they are ill-equipped to deal with the terror threat.
4.Within the calculations of the ISIS strategists, the fourth reason, at least explaining why it happened now, is that it had to happen fast. Last week, Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor of the cell that carried out the Paris attacks in November last year, was arrested in Brussels. The Belgian government was triumphant and expected to extract important information from the terrorist.
For the very same reason, ISIS feared that its plans for further actions would become known, so it preponed the bomb attacks that have now taken place. That explains why they targeted easily accessible places: ISIS showed that it could fast adapt to the constraints of the new situation and still achieve a very tangible and sensational result.
5.But the most controversial and, politically charged, is the fifth reason. Using Brussels as a staging-ground for preparing attacks in Madrid, Paris or Brussels itself is very easy, because the militants can always count on a large population of sympathisers.
Ernesto Che Guevara, had written, “A guerilla fighter is among masses like fish in the water”. In the Muslim neighbourhood of Brussels, there is a strong anti-system feeling, and even moderates will never betray their own community.
So, At any rate, in a realistic assessment, Brussels had it coming. Belgium’s Home Minister had warned last week that the latest catch of a terrorist did not mean that the terror threat had died down. He was proved right sooner than he expected.
Web Title: Why ISIS Targeted Brussels? By Koenraad Elst
Keywords: Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)| jihadist militant group| islamic state| islamic terrorism|