Horror. Outrage. Disgust. Not to mention deep empathy for the dead and injured. All of those deep feelings came rushing back — again — as the gruesome details of the terror bombings in Brussels, Belgium became known Tuesday.
Such feelings are nearly identical to the ones felt in December when two radicalized jihadists killed 14 people and wounded dozens in a San Bernardino shooting as well as last November when a series of coordinated acts of terror were launched against innocents in Paris.
In fact, it is likely the Brussels bombings — which also were well coordinated — were connected to the Paris attacks coming as they did just four days after French and Belgian leaders captured 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, who is thought to be the lone remaining at-large direct participant in the Paris attacks.
One investigative operating theory is that Tuesday’s attack was already being planned when Abdeslam was arrested, but the plan was accelerated for fear he might disclose its details under questioning.
Most Americans have empathy for the people in Paris and Brussels because we felt their pain nearly 15 years ago when terrorists used hijacked commercial aircraft to launch devastating attacks against New York and Washington. The Brussels bombings are but one more act of war against modern Western values. There are those who chastise anyone who uses war terminology when referring to such attacks. We wish them a safe trip back to their planet, but on this one that is utter nonsense.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls got it right when he said, “We are at war.”
And the “we” to which Valls refers is not just France or Belgium or even Europe, but every human on the globe who finds the premeditated, indiscriminate slaughter of innocents abhorrent.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s carnage. No surprise there. Many of the investigators had already noticed it had all of their earmarks.
The bombings make clear that many of the world’s major cities — and European capitals, in particular — are vulnerable despite the recent concerted attempts to dismantle the militant network. Europe also is reeling from the conflict in Syria. Many of its citizens have traveled to Syria to fight and have come back radicalized.
That portends a likelihood of future attacks. Since the Paris attacks, European law enforcement agencies have been working much more collaboratively to uncover fomenting terror cells in their midst. That noble effort must continue.
One of the highest aims of terror groups is to change people through threats and fear. The best way to fight it is not to be intimidated. We urge the good people of Belgium, France and Europe to stand together and know that we in the United States stand with them.
The Oakland Press