Following multiple bombings in Brussels at the Zaventem Airport and a metro line in the city center today the 22 March 2016, IS have released a statement via Amaq News Agency claiming responsibility and alleging that 230 people had been killed or wounded.
It alleges that the perpetrators opened fire inside the airport before detonating their suicide devices.
- Amaq News Agency statement (22 Mar 2016):
‘Brussels – Amaq Agency: Islamic State fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices on Tuesday, targeting an airport and a central metro station in the center of the Belgian capital Brussels, a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State .
Islamic State fighters opened fire inside Zaventem Airport, before several of them detonated their explosive belts, as a martyrdom bomber detonated his explosive belt in the Maalbeek metro station. The attacks resulted in more than 230 dead and wounded.’
Figures released by Belgian authorities calculate the casualties of both attacks to be approximately 30 killed and around 230 wounded.
Belgian police have released an image of three individuals who are the main suspects, two of whom are wearing a black glove on their left hand.
Two attackers allegedly died at the airport, with three main suspects, one appears to have escaped.
Police in Brussels have appealed for information on the suspect who allegedly escaped, seen on the far right of the image above wearing a black/dark hat and white/cream jacket. He is also the only individual of the three suspects not wearing a single glove on his left hand.
UPDATE: 23 March 2016:
Belgian authorities have released revised casualty figures of both attacks to be 31 killed and around 270 wounded.
The two suicide bombers (one at the airport, one at the metro line) have been identified as brothers Khalid & Brahim El Bakraoui, the second airport suicide bomber was named as Najim Laachraoui.
A number of other suspects are allegedly being sought in connection with the attacks.
Khalid & Ibrahim Bakraoui.
UPDATE: 27 March 2016:
The missing third suspect wearing a dark hat and light jacket, seen in the image above showing alleged bombers at the Zaventem Airport, is widely reported to be freelance journalist Faycal Cheffou. He was arrested on Thursday night 24 March 2016 (local time).
UPDATE: 28 March 2016:
Contrary to media reports, Belgian police are still seeking the man seen in the image above showing alleged bombers at the Zaventem Airport. The suspect wearing a dark hat and light jacket is still at large.
The man arrested and named as Faycal Cheffou by local media has reportedly been released due to a lack of evidence.
As attacks continue to increase in Europe, particularly France recently and now Belgium, it leaves the dilemma of how to respond.
Such atrocities see the steady increase of right wing political support in the West and as a consequence the steady increase of isolation among Muslims living in Western countries.
IS control cities, towns and villages in both Syria and Iraq, they are found among the population it controls, it is not camped in random fields away from any such residential areas.
Increasing attacks against IS in Syria and Iraq will likely see an increase in the amount of civilians killed there, helping to increase hatred towards Western countries among friends, family and the local population. It also provides further propaganda material to recruit from the wider Muslim world, all of which increase IS (and other fundamentalist groups) ranks.
For Western populations, attacks such as that seen in France and Belgium means the further increase of powers handed to intelligence agencies. It will be argued that such acts of violence cannot be stopped unless more powers are given to police and intelligence agencies, allowing the wide reaching acquisition of various forms of data.
Despite this, attacks will continue.
As stated earlier, it also steadily increases the negative sentiment towards Muslims and the rise of more hard line right wing views.
Not responding in any meaningful way will allow IS and other groups to feel they can attack at will.
All of which play directly into the hands of IS, it is a catch 22 scenario, a perpetual cycle and the civilian populations of all sides inevitably pay the largest price.
The fundamentalist Islamic ideology of IS and other groups cannot be bombed out of existence. This has been the course of action for many years but has not worked, the situation has only worsened in recent years.
Western foreign policies driven at least in part by ideology have proven catastrophic, particularly since 2001 to the present day, successfully opening Pandora’s box in the Middle East and Africa.
The chaotic destabilization created and the ramifications of this can be seen today in many forms such as the various on-going conflicts in the region, increased terror attacks, the growth of ever larger fundamentalist groups, the increase of mass surveillance and the largest mass movement of refugees and migrants since World War Two.
Western main stream media news coverage of attacks such as Brussels recently and media coverage regarding Western military action abroad and its ramifications we see today is starkly different.
Of course this is intentional and turns a complex narrative into a simplified narrative, free of awkward context and easy for public consumption. We are good and they are bad, they kill civilians, we do not. An interesting article by Glenn Greenwald highlights this particular point in an article linked below.
- The Intercept (25 Mar 2016) – Highlighting Western Victims While Ignoring Victims of Western Violence:
Unfortunately this helps to further marginalise more Muslims living in Western countries who see one sided news bulletins and reports from media establishments who at the same time claim to be objective and impartial.