Following the raids on Friday, police and armed guards are on high alert in at least two Belgian cities for additional potential Islamic terror attacks, particularly on Jewish targets.
Soldiers stood guard outside the Jewish Museum in central Brussels on Saturday, as Belgium joined France in deploying its military alongside police to counter the threat of potential terror attacks.
Security has been stepped up across Europe in the wake of last week’s shootings in Paris and a sweeping Belgian counterterror operation two days ago that left two suspects dead in the city of Verviers.
Soldiers in camouflage gear and police could also be seen by the Great Synagogue of Europe in Brussels and some roads in the area were closed to traffic. Troops have also been deployed in Belgium’s largest city, Antwerp, to protect the Jewish district there.
Friday’s raids were focused on plans uncovered by counter-terrorism units which purported to attack police on the streets and in police stations. Unconfirmed – but completely plausible- speculation in the media from a variety of sources seems to indicate that not only are additional terrorists suspected to be in the region, but that their plans include renewed antisemitic attacks on Jewish targets. After the activity in Paris, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
The Jewish Museum in Brussels was under heavy guard, and that won’t be terribly surprising either, since it was the scene of a deadly shooting just last year. The terrorist in that attack, Mehdi Nemmouche, was later discovered to have been a trained fighter who had been conducting jihad in Syria the previous year and been captured, but later released. (Good thing we don’t let people like that go in the United States, eh?)
This is probably dredging up some terrible memories for the city’s oldest residents. It is being frequently noted that this is the first time that troops have been deployed like this on the streets of Belgium in 35 years. Let’s hope they get the bad guys rounded up quickly and can return to some sense of normalcy, though they will clearly have to remain on high alert for a long time to come.