On November 13, 2015, Paris was attacked by ISIS. Officials noted that just days before the attacks on Brussels on March 22, 2016, the last surviving suspect of the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested. Abdeslam was born in Brussels and was traveling into Brussels before the attacks. Some think that this could have some correlation to the attacks on Brussels.
On the morning of March 22, two bombings occurred in Brussels, Belgium; the first in the International Brussels Airport around 8:00 am, and the second at 9:11 am at the Maelbeek Subway Station, leaving 35 killed and over 300 injured. Eight hours after the bombing, ISIS claimed responsibility and said that Belgium is “a country participating in the coalition against the Islamic State”. The occurrence of this bombing caused confusion, wonder, and reaction within Brussels and countries around the world. The first of the two bombings happened in the departure hall of the Brussels International Airport at 8:00 am. 10 were killed, and many injured. The second occurred in the Maelbeek Subway Station. At least 20 were killed in the station, and over 300 were injured overall. Both of the bombings came without any warning. “We heard a big noise and saw a big flash,” said one passenger, Ilaria Ruggiano, “My mother went to the floor — she was hit. I just dropped my luggage and went to the floor. A kid came out, bleeding a lot. I tried to help him with a tissue, but it was not enough. There were two bombs.” The death tolls do not include the suicides of the bombers who blew themselves up in the action; two at the airport and one at the subway station.
Brussels is the seat of European Union government. Since the attacks on Paris in November, their main focus has become counterterrorism investigations–making Brussels a significant target to terrorists.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium and has a population of about one million. Due to the attacks, the prime minister of Belgium shut down many parts of the city and asked all residents to “avoid all movement” while further investigations went on after the attacks. There was also an order from the prime minister for three days of national mourning. All flights were suspended until Wednesday, March 30, 2016; all subway lines are currently closed; the Eurostar trains that connect Brussels to London, and the Thalys trains that link the city to other European capitals were shut down until Wednesday also. The European Union Complex is also shut down. With the amount of damage that the terrorists inflicted on the people of Brussels and their community, Brussels is determined to build back their community stronger than it was before the attacks. This was made clear by the Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, “To those who have chosen to be the barbaric enemies of liberty, of democracy, of fundamental values, I want to say with the greatest strength that we will remain assembled and united.” The bombings affected many countries, with victims from the US, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, and China.
Internationally, the attacks have caused fear, and many countries have increased their safety precautions. In France, the French government ordered 1,600 extra police officers to patrol the nation’s borders. This included train stations, airports and ports. The reaction elsewhere? London, New York, and Paris are some of the major cities restricting their security around their transit hubs and other areas within the cities that have been targeted previously. President Obama said that the United States would do “whatever necessary”, to assist Brussels to bring the attackers to justice. “Yet another reminder that the world must unite, we must be together, regardless of nationality or race or faith, in fighting against the scourge of terrorism.”. Allies are also showing their respect for Brussels. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the World Trade Center in New York, and other monuments were lit with the colors of Belgium’s flag. The ISIS attacks do not only affect the countries they are presented on, but their allies. “Through the Brussels attacks, it is the whole of Europe that is hit,” President François Hollande of France stated. He vowed “to relentlessly fight terrorism, both internationally and internally.”
The Belgian authorities have investigated the attacks thoroughly. They have released photos of three men at the airport that were suspects and the two others were “probably” suicide bombers. Two of these men that were in the photo were wearing a black glove on their left hand. The most wanted man is Europe now is an unidentified man that was caught in airport surveillance in a white coat and dark hat pushing a luggage cart just before the bombing. After being notified by the taxi driver who picked up and dropped of the three bombers, police found bags of evidence in a northeastern Brussels apartment. The taxi driver also said that the three men were carrying very large bags [containing the bombs] and brought them into the airport.
The attacks on Brussels have brought together countries to put ISIS into justice. “We are at war,” the French prime minister, Manuel Valls.