Brussels Seems Confident That It Will Not Be Attacked

Brussels, the capital of Belgium but also of the European Union and of NATO, is not prepared for a terrorist attack. After a warning by the chief of the Brussels fire brigade that his men would never be able to cope with an attack on more than one underground station, Véronique Paulus de Châtelet, the Governor of Brussels, confirmed on Tuesday that Brussels does not have an emergency plan in case of an attack by al-Qaeda or other likeminded criminal organisations.

Brussels, however, seems confident that it will not be attacked. For years the Belgian authorities have pursued a policy of turning a blind eye to extremist groups in return for their implicit agreement not to target Belgium. Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt recently indicated that, given Belgium’s conduct in foreign policy, it is unlikely to become a terror target. Willy Claes, a former Belgian Vice Prime Minister and former Secretary General of NATO, thinks that the fact that Brussels houses the seats of the EU and NATO makes it a likely target of al-Qaeda. A recent poll indicated, however, that many Belgians are convinced that the terrorists will behave rationally and leave Belgium alone.

Safe Haven

In 1996, Charles Pasqua, the French Minister of the Interior at the time, accused Belgium of lacking the resolve to fight international Islamic terrorism. The accusation followed the release in Brussels of twelve members of the Algerian terror group GIA, the Algerian branch of al-Qaeda. France had been a main target of GIA attacks, including the bombing of the Saint-Michel Metro station in Paris on 25 July 1995 where seven people were killed and 117 wounded. At the time the Belgian government had made a deal with the GIA terrorists, agreeing to turn a blind eye to conspiracies hatched on Belgian soil in exchange for immunity from attack. In a GIA statement addressing the Belgian King Albert II but posted to the French embassy in Brussels in June 1999, the Algerian terror movement explicitly referred to such a deal. Because of its “neutralist” position, Belgium became known as a safe haven for terrorists.

In June 2002, Mrs. Godelieve Timmermans, the head of the Belgian secret service, resigned after an investigation by a parliamentary commission concluded that the secret service had remained passive towards Islamist fundamentalists because it had found no indications that the terrorists would attack Belgian targets. The investigation followed the murder of the Afghan general Ahmad Shah Massoud. The charismatic leader of the anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan was killed by a Belgian and an accomplice carrying Belgian papers on 9 September 2001, two days before the attacks by al-Qaeda on New York and the Pentagon. The murder, intended to be “a gift” to Osama bin Laden, had been planned by Tarek Maaroufi, a Tunisian-born Belgian citizen and one of the leading al-Qaeda agents in Europe.

Earlier, in January 2001, the CIA and the Italian anti-terror squad had discovered a plot by a Milanese al-Qaeda cell to bomb the US embassy in Rome. The Milanese cell had been in regular contact with Maaroufi. When, however, the Italian authorities asked the Belgian authorities to arrest and extradite Maaroufi, Brussels refused, arguing that it did not extradite Belgian citizens. A Brussels court convicted Maaroufi in June 2004 to a prison sentence of seven years for his part in the Massoud murder. In September 2004 he was sentenced to five years for being al-Qaeda’s European liason officer, but the court decided to include these five years in the seven years he had received earlier.


The 2002 inquiry of the Belgian parliamentary commission revealed that the Belgian authorities had allowed the Belgian Muslim community – numbering over 350,000 members, including more than 200,000 Moroccans, almost 100,000 Turks and 13,000 Algerians – to become heavily infiltrated by fundamentalist extremists. Upon resigning as head of the secret service Mrs. Timmermans indicated that she had been powerless to do anything about the spread of Islamic fundamentalism because the secret service had been understaffed and had not been given adequate funding.

Koen Dassen, Timmermans’s successor, complained yesterday that the OCMW, the Socialist-run welfare office of the city of Antwerp, is refusing to give the secret service the names of supposedly “underprivileged” Pakistani immigrants, asylum seekers and fugitives who have received OCMW funds to pay for frequent (i.e. more than once a year) “family visits” to Pakistan and/or Afghanistan. A secret service spokesman told the newspaper De Tijd today: “We have to go to court if we want the names of people on welfare who make frequent OCMW-funded journeys to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The OCMW has always refused to reveal their identities. And we have still not been given the names.”


“We have to go to court if we want the names of people on welfare who make frequent OCMW-funded journeys"

What are they, the effin boyscouts ?
Don't they employ hackers, or burglars, or can't they subvert someone with access to that information?

The Brussels Joke

National Security has only one or two internet connections. Doubt very much that they're allowed to use hackers or buglars. We're not talking about the NSA or CIA.

Furthermore Brussels never has been prepared and never will be prepared.
I'm confident that some politicians will find it offending.
The main threat of terrorism comes from Islamic groups, you will find many politicians who's electorate mainly consist of Muslim votes. Thats why Brussels is a mess, police is wearing political handcuffs and anything that might endanger their Islamic electorate is immediately racism and a serious problem.

On a more sarcastic note : what are the chances that Islamic radicals will blow up a subway ?
I believe they're slim, anyone been on a subway in Brussels lately ?
Chances are too big that they'd kill 'brothers & sisters'.

Personally, I'm confident that there is a threat towards Brussels & Belgium.
We're Europe's centre and we do have troops in Afghanistan.
NATO HQ is well defended but there is always a way, it will require the smuggling of heavy hardware but its feasable to hit it with a type of artillery.

I also believe that we're focusing too much on Brussels. Antwerp is the most important economical centre in the country holding one of europe's largest ports. A port used to ship out US Military equipment. Additionally there is the Chièvres airbase, Kleine Brogel airbase and SHAPE HQ in Bergen.

Brothers and sisters

On a more sarcastic note : what are the chances that Islamic radicals will blow up a subway ?
I believe they're slim, anyone been on a subway in Brussels lately ?
Chances are too big that they'd kill 'brothers & sisters'.

That thought doesn't seem to have deterred the London bombers. Still they managed to take out a few Jews, so that makes up for a couple of "own goals".

Bob Doney


But still, blowing one of those lines would mean a serious element of home goals.
Doubt they could afford it. Trains running through Brussels however are another matter.
Brussel Luxemburg & Schuman would form nice targets.
But then again, I would keep quiet untill the US president came back and then launch a distance attack. A likewise attack method has been used & is in usage in Afghanistan & Iraq.

Internet connections at Belgian intelligence services

@De Ket, you wrote: "National Security has only one or two internet connections".

I don't know who your sources are, but I believe this is nonsense (apart from the fact that with 1 internet connection, you can connect a complete local area network with hundreds of PCs). According to an article in the Flemish business weekly Trends, published in February 1999, the Sûreté/Staatsveiligheid has a special "internet cell", at that time consisting of 5 people. They are using special 'knowledge management' techniques, they are keeping an eye on discussion forums etc.

Luc: Figure of speech. NS

Luc: Figure of speech. NS only has a limited internet connection as far as I'm aware.
The media reported such a thing as well. A 5 man internet cell is peanuts, you have to admit that.Whats the effect of 100 PC's sharing a single internet connection ?
Either way within the military & police people mock the NS. The latest news article relating to the agency is quite amusing and also somewhat baffling. How come the OCMW had to come up with it and why didnt NS see it first ?

I wonder how Koen Dassen ever managed to become chief, I remember a stupid newsfragment after the London attacks. Dassen walking like a duck towards parliament with his little briefcase.
He said something of the sorts: "I just used the subway and its safe".
Whats next ? Is he going to bicycle his way to parliament to prove that bicycling in the middle of Brussels is safe ? I'm confident GREEN! and Ecolo will appreciate it.