This week, Belgium raised their terror alert and the Prime Minister gave a speech on increasing security. Today, the city of Brussels is locked down and troops are patrolling the streets in response to what is being called a “precise” threat.
The Associated Press reports that Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel stated the lock down is “based on quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris … where several individuals with arms and explosives launch actions, perhaps even in several places at the same time.”
Last year, four people were murdered in Brussels at the Jewish Museum by a French Algerian who had spent a year with jihadists in Syria. In an interview posted today by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, Brussels Federal Police officer Alain Grignard explains that extremists are known to depart Belgium for places like Syria, and return home radical, trained, and prepared to act.
Just in the last hour, news has broken that three people in Turkey have been arrested in connection with the terror attacks in Paris. One of those three is a Belgian citizen of Moroccan origin.
Photos are being shared on social media showing the extent of the security, which looks like something out of a war zone or an apocalypse movie. Camouflage and automatic weapons, troop transports and armored vehicles. All on the streets of the city that houses both the European Union headquarters and NATO.
The metro is shut down in the city, and all citizens have been urged to avoid large gatherings and places where people normally congregate.
Early Saturday, the United States embassy warned Americans in the city to “shelter in place,” which is no small warning.
The Belgian government released a statement on the 18th of this month about increasing the nation’s security, which stated in part:
In the course of today, the Army will deploy extra soldiers. The soldiers will primarily be deployed in the large cities.
Today, up to 300 extra soldiers will be deployed, on top of the 220 soldiers already set out. In total, 520 soldiers will therefore be deployed. In the coming days, the police and the crisis centre will monitor the situation and the capacity required. The extra locations where soldiers provide support are determined by the police.
Keep in mind, that statement is from Wednesday. It appears as if those numbers may have increased overnight Friday into Saturday morning. With every international building under guard and troops patrolling in just the one city, it certainly looks like more than that.
This is the threat Europe faces. When I was in Brussels several years ago, I saw for my own eyes a large area of town that seemed it had been plucked from the streets of Syria and placed in the middle of urban Brussels. The pro-Hamas, anti-Israel, anti-American, anti-European stickers and homemade signs, the many, many Palestinian flags, and the looks of anger were abundant and a dark foreshadowing of things to come. Terror hasn’t come to Europe, it has been living there in and among the streets and homes, the parks and theaters and concert halls. Hiding in plain sight. Waiting.
The army is in the streets. And not just the Belgian Army.