Last evening The Conversation published a column from me on the terrible attacks in Brussels yesterday. The piece has already been picked up and reprinted widely, including by ABC’s The Drum and the Sydney Morning Herald, and can be read in full here. The introduction is as follows:
The attacks of March 22 in Brussels were shocking, but not surprising. They reinforced what many have known for years: Belgium has a serious problem with terrorism.
For a long time, security analysts have expressed anxiety about the depth and extent of radicalisation and fundamentalism in the country. It is thought that Belgium has the highest per capita rate of foreign terrorist fighters of any EU country. A February 2016 “high-end estimate” puts that number at 562 out of a population of just over 11 million.
Last November it was revealed that some of the Paris attackers had Belgian connections and were known to the security forces there, and Brussels was virtually locked down for almost a week.
Over recent years there have been attacks on Belgian museums, supermarkets and trains, raising questions about why the country cannot seem to effectively tackle the challenges of insecurity.
As ever, the answer is not a simple one. Rather, as observed by Tim King, Belgium’s “failures are perhaps one part politics and government; one part police and justice; one part fiscal and economic. In combination they created the vacuum that is being exploited by jihadi terrorists”.