Belgian police are questioning 16 people after a swath of terrorism raids across the country. Federal police went into homes in the Brussels area and Charleroi Sunday night as they searched for one of the prime suspects in the Paris attacks. But RTE News reporter Tony Connelly tweeted they didn’t have any luck finding Salah Abdeslam.
La Libre (Belgian press): 6 arrested in police operation in centre of Brussels, one person injured, Salah Abdeslam not among those arrested
— Tony Connelly (@tconnellyRTE) November 22, 2015
One of the arrests may be Abdeslam’s uncle, but the Google Translate of the HLN.be article isn’t 100% clear. The Belgian government really isn’t releasing anything about the raids either, except no one was seriously injured and no weapons were found. They’re still looking for Abdeslam and with luck they’ll be able to catch him sooner, rather than later. HLN.be did report shots were fired during one raid. It’s an iffy Google Translate from Dutch, so it’s cleaned up as much as possible.
The raids were conducted without incident, but…in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek is a car…which the police has shot twice. The car took flight…and the motorist who could be arrested was slightly injured,. “It is not clear whether the arrest is related to the searches,” said prosecutor spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt.
What doesn’t need any sort of translation is the fact Brussels is still on lockdown because of fears of a Paris-like terrorist attack. Interior Minister Jan Jambon isn’t talking about the possible attack or how the government is fighting against it. Via Nieusblad.be through Google Translate.
The minister also wants to give any further details about specific threats, for example against the police station in downtown Brussels. “That threat that should be clear from the analysis of the OCAD,” said Jambon. But he does not give details. “When you design a defense and you’re going to say, ‘there and we stand’, it is usually helpful info for the attackers. So we will not make to the world. ”
Jambon also finds it too early to conclude that the threat after the action of Sunday is less. “It is the OCAD to do that. They will be at noon a new analysis, including on the basis of information they get from this action. “
Hopefully no attacks happen and the threat turns out to be a false alarm. The government does think the threat has nothing to do with the hunt for Abdeslam, but no one is really saying anything. They’re also being pretty coy about how long Belgium’s increased security measures are going to stay in place. Brussels is a police state right now, with all the cops and military patrolling. If the police don’t find Abdeslam or any other terrorists it’s going to be interesting to see if and when they’re going to pull back security. Life is going to have to go on at some point and it’s not like shopping centers and chain stores are going to stay closed all week or longer. If they have to be shut down for a while, Belgium may be looking at possibly bailing out the stores due to lost revenue. Considering how Greece went during the austerity talks, it’s doubtful the EU will want to see its capital go belly up. But security is going to stay pretty tight in Brussels until further notice. Here’s hoping this all gets wrapped up soon so life can return to normal in Europe.
One person who is talking is Abdeslam’s brother, Mohammed. He took to RTBF TV in hopes of getting Abdeslam to surrender. He also lets people have an interesting peek into the mind of a Muslim who slowly sees a close family member get radicalized. Here’s the translated transcript via BBC News (emphasis mine).
Journalist: And you say that you didn’t see anything coming, that you never had any suspicion. A slight change six months ago, as you told me.
Mr Abdeslam: Yes, a slight change, indeed. But this change wasn’t worrying, not for me, nor for my family. When your brother begins to pray, it’s not necessarily a radicalisation. When your brother tells you he’s stopped drinking, it’s not a radical change. These are people who, for us, just wanted to calm down and show more respect in their practice of religion.
Journalist: And apparently, they became radicalised.
Mr Abdeslam: They became radicalised. Personally, I wouldn’t use this term. Nowadays, a lot of young people can be easily influenced. I deeply believe that my brothers weren’t radicalised. That’s the reason why we didn’t see anything. I rather feel like my brothers were manipulated.
Maybe this is one of the problems of Islam, which Muslims are going to have to accept. You’d think Muslims would start to be more cognizant of changes in behavior based on the terrorist attacks in America after September 11th and some of the attacks in Europe. There are moderate Muslims out there, but if they just see the radicals as people who “wanted to calm down and show more respect in their practice of religion” then they’re going to have to change their thinking. Maybe it’s time for Islam to really try to find its Martin Luther in hopes of reformation or maybe the moderates need to do more to protect themselves from the Islamists. But that’s not a question I can answer and time will only tell what will happen.