Brussels explosions: Airport, metro attacks were planned and authorities outsmarted（比…更聪明，用计谋打败） in wake of （紧随）key arrest
Washington: Hindsight is as easy as it is cruel.
On the arrest in Belgium last week of a key figure in the November 13 attacks in which 130 people died in Paris, his lawyer made a very specific statement to reporters: “Salah Abdeslam is cooperating fully” with investigators.
So no, the twin attacks in the Belgian capital on Tuesday were not revenge for the arrest of Abdeslam. But a statement that he was cooperating with the authorities, likely was either a pre-arranged signal to confreres（同事）, or just their common sense understanding that they should activate attack plans already in the pipeline.
Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels were sophisticated（老练的，雅思评分标准里的词语） – not a few days’ work. “As with the Paris attacks, this had many moving parts,” a Belgian security official told Voice of America. “This wasn’t something that was pulled together over the weekend – something hastily（匆忙的） arranged to send a terror message about [the arrest] of Abdeslam.”
The Brussels terror dynamic（动力，这里可不是动态的意思） reveals the clashing imperatives（命令） for terrorists and those who pursue them. A group like the so-called Islamic State wants to retain（保持） control of the narrative（叙事，故事） and to keep the initiative – just as security services need to act as quickly as possible on any information extracted from the likes of Abdeslam to head off（阻止，地道搭配） new attacks; the terror cell wants to drown the story of success by the authorities in capturing Abdeslam with a stunning new show of its capability in causing chaos.
Belgian security agencies were assailed （质问） in the immediate aftermath（后果） of the bombings.
There they were on Friday, being congratulated for the live capture of Abdeslam, even if he had been hiding in plain sight. But then just days later, the country was in convulsions（动乱） and chaos as a string of （一系列，地道搭配）suicide and other bomb attacks killed more than 30, and wounded（受伤的） scores more.
Dr Shiraz Maher, of the International Centre for the Study of radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London, told reporters that per capita（按人均来算）, Belgium had the highest number of foreign fighters in Syria of any European country – “more than twice as many have gone from there as from France, and more than four times as many as from Britain.”
The Molenbeek quarter in Brussels is a hotbed（温床） of jihadist（圣战主义者） activity, running a not so underground shuttle of fighters to the war in Syria and, before that, to other conflict zones. But by various accounts, Belgian security forces are reluctant to enter Molenbeek.
The local mayor reportedly received a list of as many as 80 suspected Islamic militants living in the quarter in November 2015 – it included Salah Abdeslam and his brother Brahim who blew himself up（blow up，爆炸） in the Paris attacks.
If as seems likely（这看起来是可能的，虚拟语气）, the cell behind the Tuesday attacks is a remnant（残余） of the cell that planned the Paris attacks, why had the Belgian forces not rooted them out（root out，根除）?
If it was a new group, how could it have outsmarted the authorities when all of Europe, and Belgium in particular, was on such a high security alert? But in the wake of the capture of Abdeslam, why was Belgium not on its highest security alert?
How could the far more sophisticated November attacks in Paris have been planned and resources from Molenbeek, without the Belgians having stumbled（失足，犯错） on a clue（证据）? Why did it take 125 days to find Abdeslam, when it was known he was lurking（潜伏） in Molenbeek? It must have taken dozens of associates to cover for him – again, why no arrests?
More particularly, on Sunday, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said that Abdeslam had told investigators that he had been planning fresh attacks in Brussels – so why no investigative follow-through? And how was it that the Paris attackers were able to survive a Belgian security dragnet（搜索网） that, early last year, was supposed to have cleared Molenbeek of its worst jihadist elements.
Criticism of Belgian security goes deeper than front line grunts.
There are accounts of agencies not working together, of failing to make the best use of technology. The government as a whole is accused of dragging its heels（拖后腿） – in a country with an estimated 800-plus known suspected jihadists, there are only 1000 civilian and military intelligence officers attempting to counter and corral（关押） them.
On a more structural social level, critics charged that Belgium can’t get it together because it has never met the challenge of reconciling its national and cultural fractures（断层） – tension between its French, Dutch and German speaking communities which leads to political instability.
Leading the finger pointing at security failings in Brussels was the French newspaper Le Monde, which dubbed Belgium ‘a clearing house for jihadism’ on its way to becoming ‘a nation without a state.’
In the past, Belgium has had waves of terrorism – in the 1980s and 1990s. It has poor Muslim communities, like Molenbeek, in which recruiters prey on the jobless and the angry. Added to that, as the headquarters of the European Union, any strike in Belgium is a strike against world power structures.
Donald Trump was quick to weigh in（加入辩论）, claiming that ‘more than waterboarding（水刑）’ was the solution to terrorism. But the complexity of the terror challenge, as the Brussels attacks reveal, continues to defy（公然挑衅） governments in Europe and beyond – and probably requires more thoughtful responses.
There were many calls Tuesday for a new ring of（一圈，地道搭配） security around airport terminals and metro stations – but this would simply be to create a new target, as crowds of travellers backed up, waiting to be processed.
Aviation security expert Philip Baum told The Guardian: “It’s ultimately down to looking for people with negative intent（意图）and we have to do that without creating new security hurdles that create new targets, such as checkpoints at the entrances to terminals.
“If you look at the Germanwings crash, Metrojet bombing [in the Sinai] or today [in Brussels], people with criminal intent think outside the box – and we need to too.”