On Tuesday, March 22nd, the world was rocked by breaking news of a terrorist attack in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. An airport and subway station were the target of the attacks, which ISIS took credit for shortly afterwards. As of this writing, at least 30 people were killed and over 210 people were injured. These attacks, like those in Paris in the fall, have set of all Europe on high alert, as travel between nations in the European Union is much easier and more frequent than travel between other nations. This attack comes only days after investigators were able to capture Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the Paris terror attacks, who was hiding in Brussels.
The attacks occurred around 8:00am local time, while citizens in the United States were still fast asleep. From what authorities can tell from security footage, at least three men were involved in the attack in the passenger check in area of the Brussels’ international airport. At least 10 were killed there, while at least 20 people were killed at the Maelbeek metro station.
Two suitcase bombs exploded in the Brussels airport, and official says that there was a third suitcase bomb that failed to detonate. The two suitcase bombs that were detonated are believed to have been left by two suicide bombers, while the third man associated with the third left the airport before the attacks and is still being sought out. These attacks also led to the evacuations of nearby universities, nuclear plants, and other ports of transportation
Later in the afternoon, bomb disposal robots were also dispatched to deal with a suspicious suitcase outside the Brussels’s Royal Palace, though we have no indication that these suitcases are related to the earlier attacks. Associated investigators of the attack raided a suspect home in the Schaerbeek neighborhood of Brussels after the attack and found a nail bomb, ISIS flag, and other chemical products.
ISIS was quick to take credit for the attack, stating that they had targeted Belgium for “participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State.” If this is their true reason, we should take that to be a threat against other nations who are actively involved in fighting the Islamic State, including the United States. Another threatening message circulated on Twitter accounts linked to ISIS supporters featured the phrase “What is coming will be worse.”
Reported injuries of US citizens in these brutal attacks include a former college basketball player from California, three Mormon missionaries from Utah serving their church abroad, and an Air Force officer joined by his family. Among the international citizens killed in the attack is a Peruvian mother of two living in Brussels.
World monuments and buildings lit up in black, yellow and red to show solidarity with Belgium include the Eiffel Tower and One World Trade Center. The White House will lower the flag to half-mast for several days to pay homage to the victims of the attack.
President Obama made a statement on Tuesday, saying, “Brussels is another reminder that the world must united, regardless of nationality, race or faith, to fight terrorism.”
It is expected that tightened security measures will be announced for those traveling into and through the United States, especially at airports and subway stations.
Please keep those injured and killed in Brussels in your thoughts and prayers as we look for a way to defeat ISIS and put a stop to their reign of terror.