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Author: BobR    Date: 03/23/2016 13:15:10

Late last week, the architect for the horrific terrorist attack in Paris last fall was captured in Belgium. He was found to be in possession of "heavy weapons", and planning further attacks. At the time, Paris was the assumed target. It is apparent, though, that either he was trying to mislead authorities, or that others in his organization decided to take some action before being discovered and captured too.

As is known worldwide at this point, there were two coordinated attacks in Brussels, Belgium, killing over 30 people. The airport and the main train station were targeted:
A Belgian government representative told CNN that 10 people were killed and 100 wounded at Brussels' international airport. At least 20 people died and 130 were wounded at the Maelbeek metro station, officials said.

The blasts sent wounded people fleeing into the streets, spurred evacuations of nuclear plants and transit hubs and led to raids in some areas as authorities searched for suspects and evidence.
The "working assumption" is that the attackers came from the network behind November's massacres in Paris, which left 130 dead, Belgian security sources said, while cautioning it is very early in the latest investigation. ISIS also claimed responsibility for those attacks.

As doctors treat the wounded and authorities search for suspects, a key question remains unanswered: Could the attacks have anything to do with Abdeslam's arrest?

These attacks did not include the added horror of men with rifles shooting down civilians like deer in a petting zoo, as was the case in Paris, but that doesn't lessen the psychic and commercial damage done as the European tourism season is just getting ready to warm up. The US State Dept has issued a Travel Alert for the entirety of Europe. This is a step above "Caution", but a step below "Warning". The advice is common-sense stuff, and this writer and fellow blogger Raine will be observant and take common-sense precautions in April while visiting there.

I am reminded of my first visit to Paris in 90s. In those pre-9/11 days, most of us in the U.S. were tone-deaf to ongoing bombings in European cities. I noticed that all the trash cans on the streets there had been sealed shut. When I asked why, I was told matter-of-factly that it was to keep people from planting bombs in them. Looking back, it really shows the difference in reaction between Americans and Europeans to these types of events. They take a pragmatic "we won't be deterred from normalcy" approach, and we go insane, stockpile guns, automatically assume the worst about anyone who "doesn't look like us", and circle the wagons.

And - of course - the current leader in the Republican primary race - Herr Drumpf - somehow managed to make a bad situation worse:
When host Matt Lauer pointed out that the Belgian justice system is handling Abdeslam, Trump went on to say he believed Abdeslam should be turned over to military custody by Belgian police.

“That’s okay, I mean he’s being held by whoever. Let the military take him over, they have to get their act together,” Trump said. He continued to bash Belgium. “Belgium is no longer Belgium. Belgium is not the Belgium that you and I knew, Matt, from 20 years ago, which was one of the most beautiful cities and one of the safest cities in the world. Belgium is a horror show right now.”

He also called for waterboarding, natch'. I'm surprised he didn't call them losers, and blame them for being victims. The pathetic thing is that his comments will likely resonate with his supporters, rather than horrify them as they should any American with an ounce of awareness about how this all works in that great world outside our borders.

We stand with the Belgians and the French, and any other country who is victimized by despots pushing a violent nihilist ideology. What we cannot do is stand with those who fan the flames of hatred that feed into that violent mindset and justify their actions in their minds. Let us be more like the Belgians, and less like the Drumpfs.

19 comments (Latest Comment: 03/23/2016 19:19:09 by Raine)
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