Saturday, June 18, 2016

Belgian police arrest 12 suspected terrorists to break up an immediate attack.

A police officer patrolling the streets of Brussels. EPA

Belgium has broken up a terror ring and has arrested 12 suspected terrorists. Washington Post. Dozens of houses and 152 garages were hit during the raid and another 40 people were questioned. Belgian authorities did not specify what the target was, just that the cell required "immediate" attention. Police also raised security around government officials, including Prime Minster Charles Michel. The European football (soccer) championships are also being held right now and some suspect that the match between Belgium and Ireland could have been a target across the border in France. It is not clear if the raids were due to reports that multiple groups of ISIS terrorists had crossed into Europe recently. No connection between this group and the cell that attacked Brussels earlier in the year have been found. 

My Comment:
Is this the way that Ramadan is going to be from now on? Not only has ISIS pulled off a major attack in America, they have also conducted some suicide bombings in Syria and pulled off a double homicide in France. We have no idea how bad this attack would have been but this isn't the only ISIS/terrorism attack that has been disrupted recently. France also just made some arrests, though that seemed to be more of a lone wolf situation. 

I guess it isn't fair to call this ISIS. It's pretty clear that it is Islamic extremism though. That leaves ISIS and only a few other groups capable of pulling off this kind of an attack. The only other reasonable candidate is al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) but they haven't done anything in Europe since the Charlie Hebdo attacks. My money would be on this being an ISIS terror cell.I just can't prove it.  

What was the target? Well, the European soccer championships are a good bet. Soccer is incredibly important to Europeans and attacking them would gain a lot of attention and prestige for ISIS. Indeed, they have attacked football stadiums before. During the Paris attacks, their primary target was a soccer match that French President Francois Hollande was attention. That's right, the massacre at the Bataclan theater and the other various assaults weren't supposed to be the main thrust of the attack. The attack on the stadium failed because the bombers could not get into the building but if it had worked the plan was to both bomb and then shoot at the people fleeing. It failed because of dumb luck and the actions of a single security guard, so I wouldn't be surprised if ISIS tried the same plot again. Still, the championship games will have high security and if Omar Mateen proved anything at all its that there are softer targets that you can hit and still create a massive death toll.

Of course the fact that Hollande was at the soccer match was no coincidence. I have long argued that ISIS will probably attempt to assassinate a world leader. Doing so would have a massive impact, and would be a game changer, both for ISIS and the world. Every leader in Europe has a target on their head, none bigger then the one on Belgium's Prime Minster Charles Michel. ISIS has long used Belgium as a base and killing or otherwise incapacitating Michel would serve as revenge for them. He's not the only target as Hollande has already had one attempt on his life. I also think that the leader of the Cathloic Faith, Pope Francis, is also a huge target that ISIS would very much like to attack. Even an unsuccessful attack on a European leader would have a massive impact... 

Indeed, I predicted earlier in the year that ISIS would at the very least attempt to do so this year and had a decent chance of succeeding. European world leaders don't quite have the security that American Presidents have. Though it would be extremely difficult for ISIS to pull off such an attack, dumb luck and careful planning could allow them to do so. I am sure that security is running through the minds of every leader in Europe right now. 

The worry now is that there are more cells active in Europe besides this one, assuming that this was has been broken up completely. It is unclear if this cell has any connection to the teams of ISIS fighters that have been reported to have recently entered the country. If they were then this was fast work by the Belgian police. It's a real possibility because no weapons were found during these raids. If it was the new people, they might not have had a chance to secure weapons before the raids. Though I had also heard that these infiltrators were traveling with weapons, so it could go either way.

The threat of terrorist attacks globally are still sky high. It seems that these kinds of arrests are happening every week during Ramadan and the terror attacks are occurring rapidly as well. So far it seems that all of the successful attacks on western targets have been lone wolf attackers inspired by ISIS propaganda. Omar Mateen in Orlando was not a part of core ISIS and neither was the attacker in the French double homicide in Magnanville. Core ISIS still hasn't struck anywhere and I am worried that a larger scale attacks, like the Paris or Brussels ones, will still occur. 

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