Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister Jan Jambon told NBC News there may be as many as 100 Islamic State terrorists within Belgium who are actively plotting more terror attacks.
Jambon clarified in the Thursday report that there is no intelligence of an imminent attack like the March 22 bombing in Brussels, which killed 32 people. Jambon speculated that nearly 200 Belgium citizens had returned to Belgium after fighting for ISIS in Syria.
While half that number is not considered a threat, Belgium worries the other 100 could be returning with instructions to plan similar attacks. Many of the November Paris attackers were sent by ISIS’ external operations wings with specific direction and training.
Belgium is a strategic weak point in Europe — trains are available at all hours to Paris, London, Berlin, and Amsterdam. Furthermore the ISIS terrorists who returned to Belgium are likely Belgian citizens, which is worrisome for the U.S. Most Belgian citizens can enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.
The mastermind of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was a Belgian citizen who bragged about the ease of getting back into Europe after fighting for an extended period of time in Syria. Abaaoud was able to spend nearly two months in France planning the attacks without ever being detected by French authorities.
Making matters worse, Belgium and the rest of Western Europe also face the threat of homegrown ISIS-inspired terrorists who are difficult to detect if they have not traveled to Syria. Residents of Belgium’s heavily Islamized Molenbeek neighborhood are connected to nearly every major terrorist attack in the West. Following the Paris attacks, Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel noted, “Almost every time there is a link to Moleenbeek.”
Paris Attacker Salah Abdelsalem was apprehended in Molenbeek after nearly four months of searching for him. Abdelsalem and his fellow terrorists also planned the Paris attacks in Molenbeek.
Michel elaborated, “We’ve tried prevention. Now we’ll have to get repressive. It’s been a form of lassiez faire and laxity. Now we’re paying the bill.”
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