I’m tempted to say that Europe’s jihad problem is going to get worse before it gets better, but it’s probably not going to get better.
Most reports say two dead and one wounded. AFP says it’s three.
The men targeted in Verviers were under surveillance returning from Syria a week ago, Belgian media reported…
Several reports said a series of other anti-terror raids were under way across Belgium, including in the capital Brussels, where the European Union is headquartered…
A … witness said he saw two young men apparently of North African origin “dressed all in black carrying a bag of the same colour,” adding that the pair looked terrified.
Three Islamic State militants threatened attacks on Belgium in a video broadcast on Wednesday, the Belga news agency reported.
Per the Atlantic, what started as a raid ended up as a gunfight when the suspects open fired on Belgian police. One witness in Verviers told reporters he heard machine guns being fired, although it’s unclear which side (or both) was using them. The ISIS video appears to be no coincidence either: One Belgian counterterror official told a CNN source that the suspects in today’s raids were “instructed by ISIS to carry out attacks in Belgium and Europe.” Seems like the Belgians may have interpreted the video’s release as some sort of “go” signal to the jihadis who’d just come home from Syria. That was a risky move by ISIS — why tip your hand before the attack? — but imagine the propaganda value to the group if, soon after that video appeared, bombs started going off in Brussels. It would have been an amazing show of reach. Makes me wonder too if this operation wasn’t a game of oneupsmanship with Al Qaeda after the Yemen affiliate took credit for the Charlie Hebdo attack. ISIS doesn’t want to lose prestige to AQ; maybe they felt they had to try something to show the mujahedeen that they’re capable of terrorizing westerners too.
Speaking of Syria, how’s that U.S. bombing campaign against ISIS going?
ISIS continues to gain substantial ground in Syria, despite nearly 800 airstrikes in the American-led campaign to break its grip there.
At least one-third of the country’s territory is now under ISIS influence, with recent gains in rural areas that can serve as a conduit to major cities that the so-called Islamic State hopes to eventually claim as part of its caliphate. Meanwhile, the Islamic extremist group does not appear to have suffered any major ground losses since the strikes began. The result is a net ground gain for ISIS, according to information compiled by two groups with on-the-ground sources…
A map developed by the Coalition for a Democratic Syria (CDS), a Syrian-American opposition umbrella group, shows that ISIS has nearly doubled the amount of territory it controls since airstrikes began last year.
The new map of who controls what inside Syria is startling and depressing, although the failure of Obama’s strategy there isn’t really news. We’ve written about it repeatedly over the last few months. Partly it’s a function of prioritization: The U.S. is more interested in driving ISIS out of Iraq than in systematically destroying ISIS on the ground in Syria, so that’s where most of the focus has been. Partly too, though, it’s a function of Obama not wanting to go all-in in Syria and be seen as waging a full-fledged war there. The Syria action is supposed to be an adjunct to the long, long war across the border started by his predecessor in office. Go figure, though, that as ISIS finds tougher sledding in Anbar province and the outskirts of Kurdistan, they’d refocus on expanding their territory in Syria. The best you can hope for from Obama’s plan, I think, is that before long Assad and ISIS will have consolidated their own territorial gains and will begin decimating each other, at which point the, er, valiant U.S.-trained “moderate” rebels will swoop in and take over the country? I don’t know. We’re winging it here.
Here’s video of the raid in Verviers.