22/03/2016 Newsnight


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.


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


What can the continent do to thwart these attacks


But it is Europe which has been targeted.


It is the whole world which is concerned with this.


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


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


Brussels was rocked by three explosions this morning,


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


International terror, attacking the whole concept of an international,


Well, no-one is surprised this has occurred,


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


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


I am about 300 metres from Maelbeek station.


Behind me is the European Parliament building.


It is eerily quiet on the streets below.


People are gathering tonight at the Place de la Bourse.


People are writing messages in chalk on the ground.


Similar to the scenes we saw in Paris.


There is always an emotional response to these


events and a collective emotional response at that.


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


These pictures show the scene moments after the blast


ripped through the familiar rituals of international air travel.


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


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


They ran out in a panic with everybody else.


The attackers had planned a third explosion.


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


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


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


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


Passengers were evacuated along the smoke-filled tunnels


The bomb had exploded on the train up ahead in


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


Above ground, a huge security operation began.


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


People just covering them with towels and sheets.


She was just sat on the floor, crying.


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


There was literally horror on the streets of Belgium.


All public transport in the city was shut down.


Outside the headquarters of the European Commission today,


bureaucrats were replaced by soldiers.


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


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


And look - it is under complete lockdown.


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


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


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


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


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


here pushing trolleys through the airport minutes before the attack.


TRANSLATION: A photograph of three male suspects was taken


Two of them appear to have committed suicide attacks.


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


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


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


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


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


Many have been waiting nervously for something similar.


For those whose lives were changed for ever today, defiance


Tonight, there are searches ongoing across the country.


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


have found an IS flag and another explosive device.


But the hunt for the missing bomber continues.


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


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


This is a day nobody will ever forget.


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


People knew that something like that could happen.


But at the same time we were surprised.


Especially because it was after the victory of the capture


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


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


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


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


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


We are confronted with networks of terrorists where the intelligence


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


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


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


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


It is disproportionately big in Belgium.


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


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


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


This is where Europe needs to talk about shared intelligence.


That is something that needs to be European.


Europe should be able to manage this together.


You talk about European issues and the international nature


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


I think it was ranked the second most international after Dubai


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


I wonder whether that shapes the response here,


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


No, I think, basically the Belgians fear what can


We thought that what happened in Charlie Hebdo and


People here are aware that terrorists do travel.


There is this link between the Belgian terrorist


in the French terrorists after what happened in Paris.


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


But they can travel through the frontiers.


They can travel between the countries because there was not


enough exchange of information between the two countries.


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


The French police didn't identify him.


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


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


We have already started, in this conversation,


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


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


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


Belgium has been hit by something so big.


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


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


This is no time for politics in finding oppositions,


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


we are going to need to do this together.


We often think of Belgium as a country divided between French


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


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


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


I would like to be as optimistic as you are.


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


After the Charlie Hebdo, you know one political party,


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


After that, the Flemish nationalist party issued


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


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


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


Months ago, we had success against terrorism.


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


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


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


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


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


There are countries like Israel where security is embedded


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


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


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


significantly change lifestyles to put security as a higher priority?


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


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


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


strong and improve on security to do that.


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


we need to make security stronger, information stronger.


Solidarity is one of the features in these ghastly days.


Everybody declaring themselves to be at one with


There has been a particularly strong degree of solidarity


between the French and Belgians in recent months, both victims


There was solidarity in lights tonight, with the Eiffel Tower


But that has been tension between those two countries,


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


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


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


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


So we are going to spend the next few minutes thinking


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


This looks like a pretty catastrophic failure


What do our security services say about this?


There have been persistent reports that Belgian intelligence has been


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


And the numbers would seem to back that up.


350 jihadis from Belgium have travelled to Syria to fight


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


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


to criticise their Belgian counterterrorist counterparts here


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


relationships with police, and I spoke to a former French


government minister tonight, and he told me there is


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


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


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


And given the nature of the targets today, it was


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


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


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


security experts today talking about a rather controversial technique


called behavioural analysis, and this basically means putting


plainclothes people into locations where they can watch passengers


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


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


Behavioural analysis is all about identifying somebody was


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


I have long advocated that this should either


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


and there has been so much resistance over the years because


people feel that we are going to be racially profiling people


rather than making intelligent decisions based on common sense.


Richard Watson, thank you very much indeed.


We can't be tough on terror or the causes


of terror without understanding the things that make it flourish.


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


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


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


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


been making a Panorama programme that will air tomorrow night.


And it isn't just Molenbeek that is the focus


Yes, we have seen raids in a district


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


They are in a geographical semicircle of deprived areas


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


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


The Paris attackers, they came from Molenbeek but they


also had a safe house in Schaerbeek where they manufactured suicide


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


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


numbers of young people go over to Syria.


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


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


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


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


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


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


the centre of Belgian's problems with radicalisation.


Just last Friday, security services here celebrate


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


Many in a support network all grew up in Molenbeek.


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


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


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


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


Syrian conflict started, authorities didn't seem overly concerned


Molenbeek has 40% youth unemployment.


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


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


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


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


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


I asked him why he thought so many young people from


For some, this solution to the threat to IS lies


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


they are already too late for today's victims.


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


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


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