What Brussels reveals about terrorism now

Shocking news reports were all too familiar: attacks using improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers in a major city, leaving scores dead. Madrid 2004. London 2005. Paris 2015. And now, Brussels is added to the list. But while the similarities are clear, the attacks in Brussels likely illustrate and portend radical changes in terrorism. The first seismic shift comes from Brussels’s almost certain link to the Paris attacks. Although the connection is not yet confirmed, evidence suggests that the attackers in Brussels were closely linked to if not an integral part of the network that planned and executed the Paris events.
Should this turn out to be the case – unlike closely timed copycat attacks of the past, such as that in London in 2005 – Brussels would mark the first time since 9/11 that a terrorist cell in the West survived to launch more than a single attack. And this despite four months of Europe’s most intensive counterterrorism operations of the past 15 years by France, Belgium and other partner nations.

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