Tuesday, March 29, 2016

 Belgian Thoroughness

"The evidence that had led to the arrest of the man named Faycal C. was not confirmed by the evolution of the ongoing investigation."
"Consequently, he has been freed by the investigative judge."
Thierry Werts, spokesman, Belgian federal prosecutor

Airport CCTV shows the three suspects; Faycal Cheffou was initially thought to be the man on the right (Belgian Federal Police)

According to the Belgian health minister, 96 people were still hospitalized after the Brussels attacks. The official death toll had risen to 35 after four victims died in hospital. Among the dead were Belgians, Americans, Dutch, Swedes, Germans, French, Italians, Chinese and Brits. The crisis center stated that three families still await formal identification of their loved ones. The Brussels airport and train station attacks stunned and traumatized the city, the country, the continent and the globe.

No one can predict whether this represents a harbinger of increased-volume terrorist events yet to come. What is undisputed, however, is that the jihadist breeding ground of Molenbeek was largely responsible for the November 2015 Paris attack, just as it is responsible for this more recent attack. The question is, where else in Europe are there cells on the cusp of announcing their allegiance to fanatical Islamism prepared to sacrifice themselves in the greater purpose of slaughtering non-Muslims to convince the world that Islam reigns supreme?

Belgium has much to answer for. Not only is that open festering cesspool breeding jihadis in volume who have decamped to fight alongside Islamic State terrorists then returned whence they came to teach their newfound skills to others; a threat to the wider geography. It is a threat that emitted ample signals but which intelligence and other government agencies failed to take seriously. And it has become clear that it is not only Belgium that shrugged its shoulders at the presence of this threat.

Intelligence gatherers, jealous of their resources and their findings made little effort to reach out to one another, to consolidate their data, to ensure that adequate alerts were promulgated, to mount effective solutions to the problems that arose before the violence erupted. Belgian authorities and police have gained an unfortunate reputation of ineptness. In the follow-up to the Brussels attacks they did their utmost to restore confidence.

A flood of military fanned out all over the city, and crisis teams entered Molenbeek and other Muslim suburban communities in an effort to weed out the threats and identify those who are known to represent potential threats in the near future. In the process, much self-congratulations went the rounds when the 'man in the dark hat and white coat' seen in the security camera image from the airport alongside the two identified bombers was arrested and named.

Only to have to backtrack a day later because of lack of evidence, freeing the accused from custody and resuming the search for the suspect, appealing to the public for assistance in identifying and discovering his whereabouts. DNA evidence was analyzed to determine whether the suspect, Facal Cheffou really was who the prosecutor  and mayor of Brussels said he was; the third bomber. Seen alongside Ibrahim el-Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui who blew themselves up last Tuesday.

Evidently not. But there are those happy enough to testify that the man who had been erroneously charged with terrorism and murder was not a very nice man. Although the taxi driver who had driven the three suicide bombers to the airport identified Mr. Cheffou as the third man in his cab out of a police photo lineup, it was evidently a mistaken identification.

Cheffou seems chiefly known as a troublemaker, repeatedly disrupting a camp of refugees near the Gare du Nord railway station, haranguing volunteers from NGOs, for not being Muslims. The indignity of Muslim refugees being serviced by non-Muslims caused the man to urge migrants who were being cared for by the municipal NGOs  to rebel. "He tried to get the refugees to turn against NGOs because they were 'Non-believers'," explained Yvan Mayeur, Brussels mayor.

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