Two of the terrorists who attacked Paris on Friday were identified as French citizens who lived in the Molenbeek district of the Belgium capital Brussels, CNN reports.
The New York Times, among other outlets, reported that Belgium’s home affairs minister Jan Jambon said the government does not “have control of the situation in Molenbeek.”
Brice De Ruyver, a security adviser to former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt De Ruyver, told The UK Independent, “Youths are poorly educated, attracted by petty crime, have run-ins with police, and then there is a vicious circle, which leads to recruitment by radical groups.” he said, noting that the problems have gotten out of hand and it is difficult to find police willing to deal with them.
He added, “We don’t officially have no-go zones in Brussels, but in reality, there are, and they are in Molenbeek.”
The UK Telegraph reported Sunday that the Molenbeek district has been involved in previous terror attacks in Europe in recent years.
“We have here in Brussels as big a concentration of radical Islamists as you have in London,” the Free University of Brussels’ Bilal Benyaich, an expert on radicalization in Belgium told The Telegraph. “You can call Brussels the capital of political Islam in continental Europe.”
According to Benyaich, the district’s involvement with terrorist plots was at “three levels — as an operational base, a centre for ideological inspiration, and a centre of supply, with items such as weaponry.”
Additionally, Benyaich, whose background is Belgian and Moroccan, said Molenbeek had an “enormous” black market, which made it difficult for local authorities to enforce law and order.
“It is not just terrorism, it is drugs, it is weapons,” he said. “If you would come here, you could find a Kalashnikov in 30 minutes. The police find it more difficult to operate here,” he told The Telegraph.