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March 28, 2016

In Aftermath of Brussels Attacks, Scrutiny Turns to Failures of Belgium Intelligence


The fact that Abdeslam moved among safe-houses in the Brussels area for more than 120 days suggests Belgian authorities have few informants in Muslim communities.

After the Paris attacks, French officials grumbled about how much of the preparation was done in Belgium. Finance Minister Michel Sapin reopened the wounds Wednesday when he said there was a "lack of will on the part of some Belgian authorities, perhaps a naivety." Sapin said Belgium had failed to integrate its immigrant population.

But the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls suggested the problem went far beyond Belgium, saying Europe had closed its eyes "to the rise of extremist Salafist ideas in neighborhoods where a mix of drug trafficking and radical Islam have led youth astray."

I was amused at CNN's Moral of the Story at the article's end:

Another terror attack would further sour the mood as well as undermine the foundations of an open, tolerant and multicultural Europe. And that's just what ISIS wants.

Note that the preceding fifteen paragraphs were about ISIS exploiting an Open, Tolerant, and Multicultural Europe. Yet, somehow, Europe making itself a harder target is "Just what ISIS wants."

CNN also blames a failure to share intelligence for the failure, which is a typical bureaucratic response to failure.

Time mostly blames the things liberals like to blame-- a supposed failure of European society to assimilate the unassimilatable, and budget cuts for government -- but has this conclusion:

In an interview in Brussels in January, Alain Winants, former chief of Belgiumís State Security Service between 2006 and 2014, told TIME that the countryís politicians had for years sidelined intelligence officials, and that the agency was hobbled in its work. "There was not only a lack of interest but distrust from the political world in intelligence," said Winants, who is now a Supreme Court prosecutor. "It was impossible to do what we had to do," he said, adding with a chuckle, "James Bond could never be a Belgian."

Among the things they had to do which they did not do? Give Abdeslam a properly rough interrogation, writes Mark Thiessen.

When Salah Abdeslam, believed to be the logistics chief for an Islamic State terror cell, was captured, Belgian officials followed law enforcement procedures with precision. They provided Abdeslam a lawyer, told him he had the right to remain silent and put him into the Belgian criminal justice system. Four days later, the terror cell carried out bombings in Brussels that killed 35 people -- including at least four Americans -- and injured hundreds more.

Astonishingly, officials did not question Abdeslam at all for his first 24 hours in custody. He spent Friday night in the hospital recovering from a leg wound sustained in the raid. When he was finally returned to the police on Saturday, he was questioned by authorities for a grand total of . . . two hours -- and then was not questioned again until after the attacks. Why? "He seemed very tired and he had been operated on the day before," a senior Belgian security official told Politico.

He seemed tired? Thatís precisely when they should be interrogating him. The CIA used sleep deprivation as one of its most effective interrogation tools. But for Belgians, a terroristís exhaustion is a reason to stop questioning, not intensify it.

But here is the most incredible part: During those two hours of questioning, The Post reports, "investigators did not ask ... about his knowledge of future plots."

Seriously? Abdeslam was the logistics chief for the Brussels-based terror cell that carried out both the Paris and Brussels bombings. According to the New York Times, "He was the fixer, renting cars, finding apartments, picking people up and dropping them off." He could have identified the other members of his cell, the safe houses they used, how they communicated, moved money, picked travel routes and -- most importantly -- the targets they had selected.

Unrelated? Shots reported at the US Capitol building. Nothing more to report yet, but I wanted to mention it.

Update: Shooter has been caught; one Capitol police officer wounded, not seriously.

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posted by Ace at 01:54 PM

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