Within a few hours of the bombings of the Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station this morning, Beatrice Delvaux, chief editor of the Belgian daily Le Soir, issued a powerful editorial on her newspaper’s website condemning the attacks and verbalizing her own raw emotions at the horror of these odious assaults.
In the editorial, she said that the Belgian people knew that “this was going to happen; this was bound to happen.”
Her heartwrenching description of the pounding roar of ambulances and police cars and the flashing indigo lights that created a seemingly surreal landscape of disarray while the people of Brussels looked on in a stunned stupor clearly encapsulated the crestfallen aftermath and sense of powerlessness that has gripped the Belgian capital.
Her poignant words articulated the sentiments of so many who were left speechless by the depraved brutality of the blasts.
But what stands out the most in Delvaux’s editorial is the inference that somehow the bombings were inexorable, as if she acknowledged that the arrest last week of Paris terror suspect Salah Abdeslam by Belgian police would inevitably lead to an attack in Brussels.
Indeed, prior to the bombings, Brussels was on high alert, and Belgian intelligence sources had warned that there might be retaliation for Abdeslam’s detention.
A longtime lackadaisical attitude toward security issues by Belgian authorities and a blasé tolerance for extremism in Belgian society have made Brussels a safe haven for terrorists of all stripes.
For more than two decades, Belgium has been Ground Zero for jihadist terrorist organizations in Europe.
The first al-Qaida manual in the continent was discovered in Belgium at an Algerian safe house in Brussels, and numerous other terror groups have established global headquarters there.
Much of the planning for the Nov. 13 Paris attacks took place in Belgium and the bombings were outsourced from Brussels.
But to say – or even imply – that the fundamentalist violence visited on Brussels today was inevitable is to acquiesce to the terrorists, as if suffering the assaults was the price the Belgian people had to pay for implementing law and order.
Delvaux was not alone in saying that the attacks on Brussels were predictable.
Security officials across the continent had foretold the attacks on the capital of the European venture, and had even pegged the Islamic State (IS) group as the presumptive culprit (IS wasted no time in taking credit for the barbarous Brussels murders today).
The excruciating pain and anxiety that the Belgian people have suffered today is almost incomprehensible, and the civilized world aches for them and all of Europe at this terrible moment.
But rather than resolutely enduring the inescapability of terrorism, Belgium must instead double-down and take a more determined stance against these ruthless assassins.
Terror is not inevitable, and to capitulate to the callousness of institutionalized violence is to surrender to the perverse debauchery of the killers.
In order to combat terrorism, every nation must take a firm and radical stance to eradicate the cancer of violent Islamic extremism from its core because the entire world is susceptible to this metastasized malignancy of evil.
Thérèse Margolis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.