I was a 9/11 terrorism analyst. I have walked the streets of Brussels more than once, including on a mission involving international criminal elements working a scam between Holland and Belgium--a short train ride from one another. Paris and Brussels are also a short hop from each other--190 miles, like going from Houston to Dallas. Yet unlike Houston and Dallas, there is a border in between them, with different legal systems, intelligence systems, languages and cultures that complicate dealing with global gangsters and terrorists.
The attack by ISIS on Brussels is part of a plot. If they can get western leaders and people condemning ALL of Islam for the attacks, they know it will make their recruiting easier. Already, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have fallen into the Briar patch prepared by ISIS -- Cruz made a speech that basically condemned an entire religion of 1.6 billion for the sins of less than 30,000 ISIS members operating out of Syria/Iraq. Then he wanted to have police surround their neighborhoods, like the Warsaw Ghetto tactics of Hitler against Jews. You would never know from listening to these men that the problem involves less than 0.1% of the entire world Muslim population! Lying to Americans is not presidential.
Here is the root problem. This bombing was in the heart of the city near both the NATO and the European Union headquarters, both of which are based in Brussels, Belgium. Think of Belgium like it was when before the civil war it was the north and south combined in one country at war with itself. Part of Belgium speaks Flemish; another French (if you speak French you don't understand Flemish and vice versa). On top of that toss tons of Arab refugees who speak neither Flemish nor French and you can see a problem developing.
Belgium (and France, etc.) has been packing refugee Muslims who speak mainly Arabic into small enclaves were they isolate and don't become a part of greater Belgium--unlike here in the USA where we live next door to each other and have BBQ together at the rodeo, school events, etc.
Brussels police is organized like Ferguson Missouri was --the city has 9 different police departments covering different areas who don't coordinate very well. European countries are still not sharing intelligence like they should. Despite the Belgium police just grabbing the missing Paris attacker, they missed the 2 guys who were on video at the airport wearing one glove and pushing a cart of baggage with a bomb inside to blow up people in the airport and subway in Brussels.
this brings us back to the USA and Apple and encryption that is plaguing the San Bernardino shooting investigation. In Europe they probably missed these guys in part because of encryption. And in part because they have been flooded with returning jihadi's trained in Syria and no one knows who they are--too many to count and follow around all day with the resource they have (hint: STOP letting them come back into the country!)
Should Americans be worried? Not so much. The United States is a hard country to get to and has not sent very many young men to Syria to fight - estimated to be less than 100-200. That compares to 30,000 in Syria, thousands of which are from Europe. However, we will need to change our visa waiver program for Belgium passports, since it would be a possible way for a jihadi to come to the U.S. via a Belgium passport for which a U.S. visa is not required versus, say, a person coming from Saudi Arabia or Egypt).
The biggest damage though is not the destruction by the terrorists; the biggest damage is caused by our own reaction to it. Terrorists can bomb a train station but they cannot bring down a nation of 350 million people with the largest economy. Only we ourselves can do that by hiding under our beds or overreacting against an entire religion. Only we can do that by stoking the hate as intended by ISIS.
Mr. Trump and Cruz have disqualified themselves to be president. How? By deliberating taking the ISIS bait and (1) flaming the flames of hate towards other groups (particularly Mr. Trump who has expressed hostility towards a series of groups from women to blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, his opponents, the press -- and if the girl scouts aren't nice to him, he'll call them names too), and (2) by casting the entire Muslim faith as terrorists, requiring banishment of ALL Muslims from entering our country. Since Tim McVeigh, a white guy who blew up the Murrah federal building and killed 168 require that we condemn ALL white guys who hate the government and ban them from being here?
In World War II, it was the members of the Jewish faith who were being cast as the root of all Germany's ills. Changing the name of the religion does not make this stereotyping an entire class any less odious and un-American.
We have to work with Europeans on intelligence. And they need to build a super-European counter-terrorism task force that has all intelligence from all countries available at a central location so that terrorists moving from one country to another do not escape law enforcement simply by "getting out of dodge." The United States under Obama has been ready, willing and able to do so but it will take more action by the 28 European nations presently going in 28 direction to get moving into the same direction and coordinate. Trump, on the other hand, would pull out of NATO and leave them floundering. That only invites greater blow back for the USA.
Terrorism will always be easy in a world awash with weapons and leadership fanning the flames of sectarian hate. Preventing it will take global cooperation and the assistance of Muslims who know what is happening in their community. It will take getting the 50% unemployed youth in these areas JOBS so they have HOPE for the future. Alienating them will only make matters worse without end.
Things can change. Recently it was announced that a decades long civil war in Colombia is drawing to a close. The IRA bombings of the past were resolved with diplomacy and return to waging war at the ballot box instead of with bombs on the streets. The civil war in Rwanda that killed 500,000 is now a thing of the past.
Change can happen but it takes work, like everything else in this life. The last thing we need are our leaders fanning the flames of hate of an entire group because that is exactly what this bombing by ISIS what meant to create.
Michael Fjetland, Terrorism Analyst/Author
Better Times Ahead April Fool