After Paris, Ankara, Istanbul, Ouagadougou, Abidjan or Garissa, it is now the turn of Belgium’s capital to be the victim of a murderous terrorist attack. The investigations are still running and therefore every information has to be handled with extreme care. But some things are known.
Concerning the explosions at the Zaventem airport in Brussels and the Maelbeek Metro Station: They have been triggered by Kamikazes. Two of them have been identified as being brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui. One of them blew himself up at the Airport and the other one at the station. Both of them were close to Salah Abdeslam, who was one of the main actors of the attacks in Paris, in which the brothers were probably also involved. They have helped Abdeslam to escape from the manhunt following the Paris attacks, which ended with Abdeslam finally getting arrested on March 19th. There have been rumours that the attackers have made use of fire weapons before detonating their bombs, a rumour which is probably false as the police has not found any traces of such weapons. Nevertheless, authorities have found a laptop at the airport. One of the brothers had put a will on it, in which he says that they feel trapped and that they know that if they don’t act soon, they will end up in jail. There is a, yet unknown, third man, who is seen with them on security camera footage. He and the second Kamikaze of the airport, are still being researched by the police.
The same evening, the police went to an apartment, which turned out to be a stash. There they found equipment to produce bombs and flags of the Islamic State. A men, has been arrested but his identity is unknown. Rumours saying that he was the bomb-maker have been denied by the Belgian government.
A friend of my family works at the European parliament, which is close to the Maelbeek station. He agreed to answer to some questions:
1) What did you experience of the explosions?
“I did not see or hear anything. Only the sirens and many police cars I saw at home and on my way to work made me apprehensive. When I then reached the Parliament a colleague told me what had happened.”
2) How is the atmosphere in Brussels?
“Yesterday, the European area was dead and hermetically closed. We were told not to leave the parliament. Pure chaos in the city centre, because there were no busses, tramways or metros that worked. But then at around 16:30 it became better, because some of the main roads were opened again. I then went home, but everything was more silent then usually. “
3) How was the atmosphere at the European Parliament?
“General consternation. In the afternoon all meetings were cancelled and the employees could go home early, but under their own responsibility.”
4) Are they additional security measures at the Parliament? If so, which?
“Today, there are no meetings neither. We are doing Telework and those who can’t do that are allowed to go to the office. There is only one entrance and everyone has to show his ID and Badge, and his luggage is checked. To enter the parking, the cars are checked too (especially the trunk and under the car). In the front there are soldiers (like it is the case since November) but only a few more.”
Officially, 31 people have died and 270 have been wounded. Let us not forget them and let’s hope that those who survived will not spend the rest of their life with physical or/and psychological consequences. And let us not listen to politicians from all parties who are using those terrible accidents for their own benefits. Using violence to get one’s way is never acceptable!