In what, if true, is the most incendiary allegation of the day, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reports that Belgian security services and other Western intelligence agencies had "advance and precise intelligence warnings" regarding Tuesday’s bombings. According to the paper, "the security services knew, with a high degree of certainty, that attacks were planned in the very near future for the airport and, apparently, for the underground railway as well."
Here is the full Haaretz report:
The Belgian security services, as well as other Western intelligence agencies, had advance and precise intelligence warnings regarding the terrorist attacks in Belgium on Tuesday, Haaretz has learned.
The security services knew, with a high degree of certainty, that attacks were planned in the very near future for the airport and, apparently, for the subway as well.
Despite the advance warning, the intelligence and security preparedness in Brussels, where most of the European Union agencies are located, was limited in its scope and insufficient for the severity and immediacy of the alert.
As far as is known, the attacks were planned by the headquarters of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Raqqa, Syria, which it has pronounced as the capital of its Islamic caliphate.
The terror cell responsible for the attacks in Brussels on Tuesday was closely associated with the network behind the series of attacks in Paris last November. At this stage, it appears that both were part of the same terrorist infrastructure, connected at the top by the terrorist Salah Abdeslam, who was involved in both the preparation for the Paris attacks and its implementation.
Abdeslam escaped from Paris after the November attacks, hid out in Brussels and was arrested last week by the Belgian authorities.
Abdeslam's arrest was apparently the trigger for Tuesday's attacks, due to the concern in ISIS that he might give information about the planned attacks under interrogation, particularly in the light of reports that he was cooperating with his captors.
The testimony of the detained terrorist, alongside other intelligence information, part of which concerned ISIS operations in Syria, should have resulted in much more stringent security preparedness in crowded public places in Brussels, along with a heightened search for the cell.
If this report is accurate, it leads to many unpleasant and frankly disturbing questions for both local as well as international authorities, like why in the aftermath of the Salah Abdeslam capture did Belgium not at least issue a heightened state of alert, as it did in November in the aftermath of the Paris bombings, when overnight Brussels looked like an army ghost town; at least it was safe.
Recall from our November report of how Brussels looks like a warzone after the Paris terrorist attack:
This time, however, the local police did nothing and the result was over 30 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
What's worse as of this moment the third suspect remain at large: as Haaretz reminds us, "the search is focused on the terrorist Najim Laachraoui, who created the explosive vests used by the bombers and escaped from the airport at the last moment."
There is concern, however, that other cells connected to ISIS in Western Europe will attempt to carry out additional attacks in the near future, either in Belgium or in other countries involved in the war against the terror organization in Syria and Iraq.
How Europe will handle the ongoing deadly fallout from the bursting of this one terrorist cell, will be closely watched, and should Tuesday's event recur when local authorities had been warned about an upcoming terrorist attack leading to no specific action, perhaps some will finally ask if the local governments were at least partially complicit in the deaths of dozens of innocent people, for motives first hinted at in that infamous 2008 AIG Banque presentation which has so far predicted with absolute accuracy the future of the Eurozone.