22/03/2016 Newsnight


22/03/2016

Evan Davis with a special programme from Belgium on the Brussels attacks.


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This programme contains scenes which some viewers may find disturbing.

:00:08.:00:13.

A harrowing IS attack on Brussels, on the open society it represents,

:00:14.:00:36.

What can the continent do to thwart these attacks

:00:37.:00:42.

But it is Europe which has been targeted.

:00:43.:00:52.

It is the whole world which is concerned with this.

:00:53.:01:03.

One of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, where most of

:01:04.:01:07.

Tens of thousands working for the EU and thousands more of course,

:01:08.:01:12.

Brussels was rocked by three explosions this morning,

:01:13.:01:15.

killing more than 30 people and injuring 200 or so more.

:01:16.:01:17.

International terror, attacking the whole concept of an international,

:01:18.:01:20.

Well, no-one is surprised this has occurred,

:01:21.:01:24.

given the Brussels connection to the French terror attacks last year,

:01:25.:01:27.

For a look at the day's events, here's Gabriel Gatehouse.

:01:28.:01:34.

I am about 300 metres from Maelbeek station.

:01:35.:01:36.

Behind me is the European Parliament building.

:01:37.:01:51.

It is eerily quiet on the streets below.

:01:52.:01:53.

People are gathering tonight at the Place de la Bourse.

:01:54.:01:56.

People are writing messages in chalk on the ground.

:01:57.:01:59.

Similar to the scenes we saw in Paris.

:02:00.:02:01.

There is always an emotional response to these

:02:02.:02:03.

events and a collective emotional response at that.

:02:04.:02:19.

As people were dropping off their bags at the American Airlines desk.

:02:20.:02:24.

These pictures show the scene moments after the blast

:02:25.:02:34.

ripped through the familiar rituals of international air travel.

:02:35.:02:38.

One minute before we were there at the place of the explosion.

:02:39.:02:59.

Vanessa and Xavier were meant to be travelling to Miami for a holiday

:03:00.:03:10.

They ran out in a panic with everybody else.

:03:11.:03:23.

The attackers had planned a third explosion.

:03:24.:03:25.

But by then, the departure lounge was littered with bodies.

:03:26.:03:30.

The two explosions at the airport came at around 8am.

:03:31.:03:47.

Then just over an hour later, 11 minutes past 9am, another attack.

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This time on a Metro train in the heart of the European quarter.

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Passengers were evacuated along the smoke-filled tunnels

:04:05.:04:09.

The bomb had exploded on the train up ahead in

:04:10.:04:15.

the middle carriage of a three car train, killing around 20 people.

:04:16.:04:18.

Above ground, a huge security operation began.

:04:19.:04:23.

People working in nearby offices rushed out to find what had happened

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People just covering them with towels and sheets.

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She was just sat on the floor, crying.

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In what was a very chaotic adrenaline filled moment, you know,

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There was literally horror on the streets of Belgium.

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All public transport in the city was shut down.

:04:54.:04:59.

Outside the headquarters of the European Commission today,

:05:00.:05:01.

bureaucrats were replaced by soldiers.

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If the aim is to paralyse, they have certainly achieved that aim.

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This is the heart of Europe, the place where all of the

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And look - it is under complete lockdown.

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Apart from the police, nobody is going in or coming out.

:05:26.:05:28.

This was not just an attack on Europe, but perhaps on Nato, too.

:05:29.:05:33.

This was not just an attack on Europe, but perhaps on Nato, too,

:05:34.:05:36.

whose planes bombing Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and whose

:05:37.:05:39.

Police circulated a picture of the attackers at the airport, seen

:05:40.:05:45.

here pushing trolleys through the airport minutes before the attack.

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TRANSLATION: A photograph of three male suspects was taken

:05:48.:05:50.

Two of them appear to have committed suicide attacks.

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The third in a light-coloured jacket and a hat is being searched for.

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As police search for the man in the light jacket, the city was

:06:02.:06:05.

coming to terms with its darkest days since the Second World War.

:06:06.:06:08.

As in Paris, they responded with a show of unity.

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Only last Friday, one of the suspects in the Paris attacks

:06:14.:06:15.

Many have been waiting nervously for something similar.

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For those whose lives were changed for ever today, defiance

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Tonight, there are searches ongoing across the country.

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Police are Brussels have zoned in on an apartment where they say they

:06:53.:06:55.

have found an IS flag and another explosive device.

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But the hunt for the missing bomber continues.

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I am joined by John Crombez, leader of the opposition in the Flemish

:07:05.:07:08.

parliament and a former minister, and by Beatrice Delvaux, the lead

:07:09.:07:13.

This is a day nobody will ever forget.

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Very rare for the King to express him self like that.

:07:29.:07:36.

People knew that something like that could happen.

:07:37.:07:42.

But at the same time we were surprised.

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Especially because it was after the victory of the capture

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We thought it was the beginning of a solution, but that wasn't the case.

:07:48.:07:56.

John, the security forces and their role in this, is this something

:07:57.:08:03.

Belgians feel proud of at the moment, or is there a sense of

:08:04.:08:06.

The result has gone wrong because Belgium has been hit in a way we

:08:07.:08:13.

haven't seen before, or since a long time.

:08:14.:08:17.

We are confronted with networks of terrorists where the intelligence

:08:18.:08:19.

and the anti-terror units are going to need to be upgraded

:08:20.:08:25.

in a sense that they need the right instruments, the right number of

:08:26.:08:28.

people, the right exchange of information that is going to go

:08:29.:08:31.

Do you think this problem is bigger than Belgium can cope with?

:08:32.:08:38.

It is disproportionately big in Belgium.

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I just wonder if it is one this country needs help with?

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What is going to be important is that we don't consider this

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Like before when it happened in France, a French problem.

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This is where Europe needs to talk about shared intelligence.

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That is something that needs to be European.

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Europe should be able to manage this together.

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You talk about European issues and the international nature

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I just wonder whether, this is such an international city, isn't it?

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I think it was ranked the second most international after Dubai

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in terms of proportion of people born overseas who are living here.

:09:39.:09:41.

I wonder whether that shapes the response here,

:09:42.:09:43.

and shapes what people feel about the nature of the threat here?

:09:44.:09:50.

No, I think, basically the Belgians fear what can

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We thought that what happened in Charlie Hebdo and

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People here are aware that terrorists do travel.

:10:02.:10:20.

There is this link between the Belgian terrorist

:10:21.:10:21.

in the French terrorists after what happened in Paris.

:10:22.:10:24.

It was by French people and people who were born here in Belgium.

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But they can travel through the frontiers.

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They can travel between the countries because there was not

:10:30.:10:31.

enough exchange of information between the two countries.

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Salah Abdeslam was able to cross the border after the Bataclan.

:10:34.:10:36.

The French police didn't identify him.

:10:37.:10:38.

It wasn't that the French did anything wrong, or the French or the

:10:39.:10:41.

Belgian police, but if they don't work together it won't be solved.

:10:42.:10:48.

We have already started, in this conversation,

:10:49.:10:50.

having a small inquest into things which may have gone wrong.

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This possibly isn't the days of this inquest, is it?

:10:59.:11:07.

This is not the day for those kinds of difficult questions.

:11:08.:11:09.

Belgium has been hit by something so big.

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It hasn't been hit by something like this in decades.

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If we can manage this, we are going to have to manage this together.

:11:15.:11:23.

This is no time for politics in finding oppositions,

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People need to be aware of the fact that we can overcome this,

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we are going to need to do this together.

:11:45.:11:46.

We often think of Belgium as a country divided between French

:11:47.:11:49.

We joke about how long it takes to form a government in Belgium.

:11:50.:11:53.

I just wonder whether this is one of those psychological or physical

:11:54.:11:56.

shocks to a nation which, in a sense, develops deeper spirit,

:11:57.:11:59.

I would like to be as optimistic as you are.

:12:00.:12:05.

Like any other country, after few days, you have to go back.

:12:06.:12:09.

After the Charlie Hebdo, you know one political party,

:12:10.:12:14.

one Flemish, during two or three days there was a sense of union

:12:15.:12:17.

After that, the Flemish nationalist party issued

:12:18.:12:28.

a statement saying that it was the fault of the French Socialists,

:12:29.:12:34.

of the Islamic behaviour, or the fact that they were sympathetic

:12:35.:12:37.

I think today is maybe not the day to ask questions.

:12:38.:12:51.

Months ago, we had success against terrorism.

:12:52.:13:03.

In the South of France, we arrested people before and killed them before

:13:04.:13:06.

At the same time, we think we can handle this, but

:13:07.:13:14.

then at the same time, this happened today and we just ask questions.

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We won't stop asking them because of some union that has to be here

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Let's finish by asking, lifestyle changes...

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There are countries like Israel where security is embedded

:13:37.:13:38.

It's something everybody does because they have been used more

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of these kinds of events than most of us in Europe.

:13:50.:13:52.

Do you think Belgians, or other Europeans, are ready to

:13:53.:13:54.

significantly change lifestyles to put security as a higher priority?

:13:55.:14:04.

No, and I would say the reaction today is quite strong

:14:05.:14:06.

already, that people are saying, we will not hand our country over

:14:07.:14:09.

We don't need that overcome this, but we are going to need to be very

:14:10.:14:14.

strong and improve on security to do that.

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We can only say we will survive this as a society,

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we need to make security stronger, information stronger.

:14:25.:14:29.

Solidarity is one of the features in these ghastly days.

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Everybody declaring themselves to be at one with

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There has been a particularly strong degree of solidarity

:14:42.:14:45.

between the French and Belgians in recent months, both victims

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There was solidarity in lights tonight, with the Eiffel Tower

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But that has been tension between those two countries,

:15:13.:15:15.

Belgium bridling at some of the criticism it faced losing control of

:15:16.:15:18.

that district of Molenbeek, and any tension between Belgium and France

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points to a bigger problem, that Europe talks about solidarity,

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but exhibits too little of it when it comes to security cooperation.

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So we are going to spend the next few minutes thinking

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about different aspects of the threat and how to deal with it.

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This looks like a pretty catastrophic failure

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What do our security services say about this?

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There have been persistent reports that Belgian intelligence has been

:15:54.:15:56.

swamped by the caseload, and that is not coming from British security

:15:57.:15:59.

And the numbers would seem to back that up.

:16:00.:16:03.

350 jihadis from Belgium have travelled to Syria to fight

:16:04.:16:06.

In terms of per capita population, that is the biggest problem

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I spoke to counterterrorism sources here today, and they were reluctant

:16:10.:16:13.

to criticise their Belgian counterterrorist counterparts here

:16:14.:16:18.

today, but they did say that some don't have sufficiently close enough

:16:19.:16:20.

relationships with police, and I spoke to a former French

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government minister tonight, and he told me there is

:16:25.:16:26.

And to look at this, you really have to consider one fact.

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After the Paris attacks, they were hunting for Salah Abdeslam,

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and it took them four months to find him, and he was hiding in plain

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And given the nature of the targets today, it was

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an airport, but it was landside, not air side, so no security.

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What's to security people think you can do about those kinds of targets

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Protecting a soft target is the key, clearly, and I have been speaking to

:17:00.:17:08.

security experts today talking about a rather controversial technique

:17:09.:17:10.

called behavioural analysis, and this basically means putting

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plainclothes people into locations where they can watch passengers

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before they pass through security, before they mount planes and trains,

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and this is what one security expert had to say to me today.

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Behavioural analysis is all about identifying somebody was

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negative intent, it doesn't matter whether it is a passenger,

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I have long advocated that this should either

:17:42.:17:48.

primary method of screening at airports, in the UK and worldwide,

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and there has been so much resistance over the years because

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people feel that we are going to be racially profiling people

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rather than making intelligent decisions based on common sense.

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Richard Watson, thank you very much indeed.

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We can't be tough on terror or the causes

:18:08.:18:09.

of terror without understanding the things that make it flourish.

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To understand those things by the way is not to justify them

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And sadly, fairly or not, it's the Brussels district

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of Molenbeek that often comes up as exhibit number one, of community

:18:21.:18:23.

Secunder Kermani has been spending time in Molenbeek, he's

:18:24.:18:30.

been making a Panorama programme that will air tomorrow night.

:18:31.:18:33.

And it isn't just Molenbeek that is the focus

:18:34.:18:37.

Yes, we have seen raids in a district

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called Schaerbeek, about 15 minutes from Molenbeek, both of these areas

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They are in a geographical semicircle of deprived areas

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around a central canal in Brussels, and we have seen people look

:18:59.:19:03.

at Molenbeek as the centre of radicalisation, but it is not as

:19:04.:19:10.

The Paris attackers, they came from Molenbeek but they

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also had a safe house in Schaerbeek where they manufactured suicide

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belts, and we don't know what connection there is between today's

:19:24.:19:26.

We see areas outside of Brussels, Antwerp is also seen significant

:19:27.:19:36.

numbers of young people go over to Syria.

:19:37.:19:42.

But with all those caveats, if you want to understand the causes behind

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radicalisation in Belgium, Molenbeek is as good a place as any to go,

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and I went back there today, as well as of course there being a lot of

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sympathy for the victims are today's awful events, there is also

:19:54.:19:55.

a sense of foreboding about what the events could mean for the community

:19:56.:19:59.

We don't know if today's attackers came from here, but it has been

:20:00.:20:10.

the centre of Belgian's problems with radicalisation.

:20:11.:20:13.

Just last Friday, security services here celebrate

:20:14.:20:15.

the capture of Salah Abdeslam, the final member of the group that

:20:16.:20:23.

Many in a support network all grew up in Molenbeek.

:20:24.:20:30.

Today's attacks have left some here worrying what will be revealed

:20:31.:20:33.

Belgium has a higher number of jihadi is in Syria per capita than

:20:34.:21:08.

anywhere else in Europe, and for the past few weeks, I have been spending

:21:09.:21:12.

One reason many in the Muslim community here and is that when the

:21:13.:21:25.

Syrian conflict started, authorities didn't seem overly concerned

:21:26.:21:26.

Molenbeek has 40% youth unemployment.

:21:27.:22:09.

There are a lot of disaffected young men here, and some are

:22:10.:22:12.

This Sheikh used to be one of Molenbeek's most well-known

:22:13.:22:23.

preachers, but is now in Syria with a rebel group fighting against both

:22:24.:22:27.

In Molenbeek, many labelled him a radical, but unlike a new generation

:22:28.:22:34.

of IS jihadists, he says he is firmly against attacks in the West.

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I asked him why he thought so many young people from

:22:56.:22:57.

For some, this solution to the threat to IS lies

:22:58.:24:12.

For others, it lies closer to home, but whatever the solutions are,

:24:13.:24:19.

they are already too late for today's victims.

:24:20.:25:27.

For many of us, this has been the driest spell of weather since last

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autumn. It is because the jet stream, the thing that

:25:33.:25:34.

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