An unidentified man detonated an explosive device at the Brussels Central Station late Monday, according to Belgian federal police. The suspect was shot by soldiers patrolling the station after he triggered a small explosion. No other injuries have been reported.
According to Belgian media sources, the suspect shouted “Allahu Akbar” before triggering the explosion.
Citing prosecutors, Belgian newspaper La Libre reported that the suspect was wearing a bomb belt and a rucksack during the attack.
Following the explosion, police quickly evacuated the premises, clearing both the Central Station and Brussels’ Grand Palace.
As previously noted, the explosion was relatively small and few civilians were near the site of the blast. The image below has been circulating across social media; it purports to show the blast.
Like London and Paris, Brussels has been targeted more than once by Islamist jihadists.
“In March 2016, 32 people died in attacks on Brussels claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group,” notes the BBC.
While security forces acted quickly to neutralize the threat Monday, Belgian intelligence services have faced serious scrutiny over their handling of jihadist threats.
In fact, the country’s intelligence services have been accused of failing to prevent preventable attacks.
After capturing Salah Abdeslam, one of the terrorists involved in the Paris massacre, just days before the Brussels bombings, interrogators failed to even ask the jihadist about future ISIS plans. Shockingly, they only questioned him for one hour before the Brussels attack.
Politico Europe reports:
Despite the discovery of detonators, weapons, and Abdeslam’s fingerprints in a safe house days earlier and growing evidence that the Brussels terror network was stronger than previously understood, law enforcement officials only briefly questioned Abdeslam because he was still recovering from surgery after being shot in the leg during his apprehension, according to a senior Belgian security official, who asked for anonymity to speak about the investigation.
“He seemed very tired and he had been operated on the day before,” the official said, adding that law enforcement officials did not question him again before Tuesday.
“They were not thinking about the possibilities of what happened on Tuesday morning,” said a second source with knowledge of the process.
Negligently, investigators only focused on the details of the January Paris attack. Already, U.S., French, and Turkish officials have blasted Belgium’s intelligence failures, rightly arguing that the global jihadist insurgency makes every Western-oriented country vulnerable to terror threats.
Molenbeek, a suburb of Brussels densely populated with immigrants and second-generation Muslims, was home to several jihadists who carried out some of the most lethal terrorist operations in modern European history.
It’s unclear if Monday’s attacker was a second-generation Muslim male from Molenbeek, an immigrant who came in as a refugee under Belgium’s generous asylum policy, a suspected jihadist crossing the Schengen Zone from one European Union country to another until finding a perfect target in Brussels, or a seriously disturbed individual obsessed with some perverse conception of Allah’s will.
One thing is clear, however. Jihadists have struck nearly every major city in Europe. The unimaginable is becoming the normal, and unless something changes soon, these sorts of attempted or successful attacks will continue to be carried out on a monthly, biweekly, or even weekly basis.