posted at 8:01 pm on September 29, 2016 by John Sexton
Ever since authorities in Belgium discovered that the terror cell that carried out the Paris attack (and the subsequent Brussels attack) was operating out of a Brussels neighborhood called Molenbeek, there has been a push to identify possible threats in the area. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that push is going to expand beyond Molenbeek into other parts of the city:
In the Brussels district of Schaerbeek, for example, terrorists rented two flats and prepared the bombs for both the Paris and the Brussels attacks.
“We focused on Molenbeek because of all the media attention at the time,” Brussels Police Commissioner Luc Ysebaert said on the sidelines of the news conference. “The other districts—like Schaerbeek—will also get reinforcements, but from October on.”
The government is in talks with six other Brussels districts about deploying additional officers, Mr. Jambon said.
The plan is to essentially go house to house in these neighborhoods and make sure no one inside has recently been to Syria and back. Another effort will be to crack down on welfare fraud. It turns out some of the Paris attack planners were living off welfare while they planned the attack:
By early September, Belgian authorities had found 98 suspected foreign fighters who had engaged in welfare fraud in Brussels and the surrounding areas, Brussels prosecutor Johan Delmulle said. Over €120,000 has to be recovered, including €80,000 in unemployment benefits, €22,000 in social aid and €21,000 in family allowances, Mr. Delmulle said.
Of course the situation in Europe is different since terror cells there tend to be made up of actual foreign fighters who have been to Syria. Here in the U.S. we’ve mostly seen attacks by so-called “lone wolf” attackers who were radicalized by online propaganda. Still, it’s hard to imagine anything like the Belgian anti-terror campaign here. We just had a terror attack in New York 10 days ago. While no one was killed when a bomb went off in Chelsea 31 people were injured. The response by NY authorities is to launch a new anti-Islamophobia campaign.