June 2017 Brussels attack

On 20 June 2017, a terrorist bomb caused a small explosion at Brussels Central Station in Brussels, Belgium; there were no casualties. Soldiers patrolling the station subsequently killed the suspect with three to four shots, according to eyewitnesses. The perpetrator was Oussama Zariouh, a 36-year-old Moroccan national who lived in the Molenbeek district of Brussels and who had assembled a defective explosive device.

June 2017 Brussels attack
Part of Islamic terrorism in Europe
Brussels Central Station in 2010
LocationBrussels Central Station in Brussels, Belgium
Coordinates50°50′43″N 4°21′24″E / 50.8454°N 4.3568°E / 50.8454; 4.3568
Date20 June 2017
20:45 (UTC+2)
Attack type
Deaths1 (the attacker)
PerpetratorOussama Zariouh
Police closing the area around Brussels Central train station

Background Edit

After the Paris attacks that killed 130 people in 2015 and the Brussels bombings of 2016 that killed 32 civilians, soldiers were on patrol in Brussels to increase security.[1] The Molenbeek district, where many of the perpetrators of the 2016 bombings lived, underwent a large-scale administrative check-up, with over 20,000 inhabitants being checked by law enforcement agencies.[2]

Incident Edit

At 20:39, a 36-year-old male entered the Brussels Central Station and descended the central stairs in the main hall, approaching a cluster of ten travelers at the bottom of the stairs. At 20:44, the man was seen isolating himself from others, then moving towards the cluster of travelers again, appearing to be nervous.[3][4][2] He was heard yelling, and attempted to detonate a luggage trolley.[5][6][7] Testimonies of eyewitnesses and a photograph taken by a witness indicate a small incendiary device detonated, with limited explosive force, but with a loud "bang".[8] The size of the explosion suggests the device failed to function as intended, possibly as a result of poor manufacturing.[9] According to the magistrate, the man was heard to shout "Allahu Akbar" after setting off the explosion and before being shot dead.[10][11][12] The perpetrator had received no training in handling explosives, and taught himself how to construct explosive devices.[2] The explosive used was TATP, the same compound used during the 2016 bombings,[2][13] the Parsons Green bombing, and the 2017 Stockholm truck attack.[14]

As the trolley caught fire, he proceeded down the escalators towards the platforms, causing travelers to flee onto the train tracks.[15] The burning luggage exploded a second time, due to gas bottles it contained.[16] This second explosion was reported more powerful than the first one, but due to the time elapsed after the first explosion, no one was injured because travelers had the chance to clear the area.[2] Shrapnel contained around the charge indicates the device was intended to cause as much injury as possible, but the device did not reach the intended maximum yield because of construction flaws.[17]

Upon returning to the main hall, the confused suspect was spotted by soldiers alerted by the explosions. He shouted "Allahu Akbar!" and engaged military personnel unarmed.[16][2] The soldiers opened fire and killed the suspect.[18] It remained unclear for hours whether the suspect had survived or not. Because he was perceived to be wearing a "rucksack and bomb belt" and wiring was visible under his clothes, the body was not approached until the bomb squad of the Belgian Army, DOVO, arrived with a robot to inspect the body and confirm his death.[19][2][20] The Belgian state television VRT initially reported that the body was booby-trapped, but it did not report that he was not wearing a bomb on his body.[21]

According to Belgian authorities, the carnage "could have been severe had the bomb, full of nails and gas canisters, detonated properly."[22][3]

Perpetrator Edit

The attacker, identified as Oussama Zariouh (alt: Usamah Zaryuh)[23] was a 36-year-old Moroccan national who had moved from his home country to Belgium in 2002 and had been living in the Molenbeek neighbourhood of Brussels since 2013.[24][25][2] He was only known to police for sexual misconduct,[26] but had no identified ties to terrorism.[27][16] A neighbor described the man as a silent and reserved individual who rarely received visitors.[2]

The Belgian Federal Prosecution Office stated that the attacker had "sympathies for the terrorist organization Islamic State", evidenced by documents found at his house.[28][29][30]

Zariouh had not received training for handling explosives or constructing explosive devices, which is required for the effective use of TATP in bombs according to terrorism expert Peter Bergen.[2] Kenneth Lasoen, a security and intelligence expert at the University of Ghent, concurred. "He did not know what he was doing. If this had been Daesh (Islamic State), he would have had better instructions about how to do this awful act."[31] He is believed to have constructed the hydrogen-peroxide-based explosive TATP[32] on his own in his Molenbeek apartment.[33]

Almost a month after the attack, an article appeared in Rumiyah, the ISIS magazine, claiming Zariouh as a "soldier of the caliphate".[34][23][35][36]

Aftermath Edit

The incident was treated by prosecutors as "attempted terrorist murder".[37] Immediately after the incident police, aided by soldiers from the Belgian army, swept the station and set up a secure perimeter around the station. The Brussels North Station was closed as a precaution, and multiple suspicious luggage items were inspected. All train traffic between North and South was suspended, and also the metro service was temporarily halted. Guests of the nearby Hilton hotel were evacuated, but allowed to return to their rooms around 23:30.[17] The UNESCO heritage site Grand-Place was briefly partially locked down. On the nearby Grass Square (Dutch: Grasmarkt), another explosion could be heard as a result of a controlled detonation of a suspected vehicle by the Belgian bomb squad.[21]

The incident was used as an argument by advocates of stronger civil oversight within the Belgian political establishment to extend the mandate of soldiers patrolling the major cities in Belgium. A campaign was launched on social media to compliment the involved soldiers on their efficient resolution of the incident, although because the "rucksack and a bomb belt" he was seen to be wearing turned out not to be contain explosives,[20][failed verification] the presence of soldiers around the station - one of whom shot him - turned out to have had very little impact on the damage caused by the attack.[21][38][clarification needed]

Wider context Edit

The attack was understood by analysts at The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times as part of a shift in ISIS tactics as the group experienced an ongoing loss of territorial control in Syria and a concomitant loss in the capacity to train and dispatch operatives to commit attacks on foreign soil.[12][39][34] The Washington Post described this as a move towards the use of "inexperienced perpetrators who act alone, without apparent direction or training."[34]

Writing in Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Paige V. Pascarelli discussed this bombing as part of an exploration of the reasons why the Moroccan immigrant community in Belgium has produced a disproportionately large number of jihadists in contrast with the similarly poorly integrated and economically unsuccessful Turkish immigrant community.[40]

Thomas Renard of the EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels called Zariouh "the new face of jihad in Europe."[24]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ Lasoen, Kenneth (2018). "War of Nerves. The Domestic Terror Threat and the Belgian Army". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 42 (11): 1–19. doi:10.1080/1057610X.2018.1431270. S2CID 116180694.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lesaffer, Pieter (22 June 2017). "Geruisloos in de ban van de jihad geraakt". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). pp. 2–5.
  3. ^ a b Boffey, Daniel (21 June 2017). "Failed Brussels attack could have caused widespread casualties – authorities". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  4. ^ Pop, Valentina (20 June 2015). "Suspected Bomber Shot Dead at Brussels Train Station". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  5. ^ Germany, SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg (2017-06-20). "Großeinsatz nach Explosion: Soldat schießt Verdächtigen an Brüsseler Hauptbahnhof nieder - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Panorama". SPIEGEL ONLINE. Retrieved 2017-06-20.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "Suspect shot after explosion at Brussels train station". Associated Press. June 20, 2017. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  7. ^ Michael Birnbaum and Annabell Van den Berghe. "Belgian soldiers shoot suspect after explosion at Brussels train station". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  8. ^ Grinberg, Emanuella (June 20, 2017). "Brussels Central Station incident: Individual neutralized". CNN. Archived from the original on 2017-06-20. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  9. ^ Grinberg, Emanuella (June 20, 2017). "Suspect fatally shot in Brussels Central Station terror attack". CNN (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  10. ^ Kanter, James (20 June 2017). "Bomb Is Detonated in Brussels Train Station". New York Times. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Belgium tightens security after a failed bombing by a man shouting 'Allahu akbar'". Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  12. ^ a b Schreuer, Milan (21 June 2017). "Brussels Train Station Bombing Renews Focus on Belgium as Jihadist Base". New York Times. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  13. ^ Smith-Spark, Laura (21 June 2018). "Explosive TATP used in Brussels Central Station attack". CNN. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  14. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (16 September 2017). "London attack: Parsons Green bombers 'still out there' more than 24 hours after Tube blast, officials warn". The Independent. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  15. ^ "Zo verliep de terreuraanslag in Brussel-Centraal". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). June 20, 2017. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  16. ^ a b c Birnbaum, Michael (21 June 2017). "Suspect in foiled Brussels attack was 36-year-old Moroccan, authorities say". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  17. ^ a b "LIVE. Volg hier de persconferentie van het Federaal parket". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). June 20, 2017. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  18. ^ "Reiskoffer ontploft in Brussel-Centraal, verdachte man gedood door militairen". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). June 20, 2017. Archived from the original on 2019-03-29. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  19. ^ Vandendriessche, Hans (June 20, 2017). "Dovo bevestigt aan @VTMNIEUWS dat een bommengordel onschadelijk is gemaakt". Twitter (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  20. ^ a b "Suspected suicide bomber shot at Brussels railway station". BBC. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  21. ^ a b c Truyts, Joris (June 20, 2017). "Man doodgeschoten in Brussel-Centraal na explosie, geen andere slachtoffers". De Redactie (in Dutch).
  22. ^ "Machete-wielding man shot dead in Brussels terror attack after attacking soldiers". Telegraph. 26 August 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  23. ^ a b Ismail, Amina (13 July 2017). "Islamic State magazine names June attackers in Paris, Brussels". Reuters. Archived from the original on 9 November 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  24. ^ a b Renard, Thomas (July 2017). "Europe's "new" jihad: Hom egrown, leaderless, virtual" (PDF). EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations (89). Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  25. ^ "L'auteur de l'attentat manqué de Bruxelles avait des "sympathies" pour l'État islamique". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 21 June 2017. L'homme abattu par les soldats à la gare centrale de Bruxelles était un Marocain de 36 ans. Il vivait à Molenbeek
  26. ^ MILAN SCHREUER; DAN BILEFSKY (21 June 2017). "Brussels Train Station Bombing Renews Focus on Belgium as Jihadist Base". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 June 2017. The authorities said the man was known to police for sexual misconduct but not for terrorism.
  27. ^ "Brussels bomb suspect was Moroccan and 'known to police'". BBC News. 2017-06-21. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  28. ^ "Ce que l'on sait de l'explosion dans une gare de Bruxelles, considérée comme " une attaque terroriste "". Le Monde (in French). 20 June 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2017. The assailant, who was shot dead, "had sympathies for the terrorist organization Islamic State (EI)," according to the Belgian federal prosecutor's office
  29. ^ Pop, Valentina (21 June 2017). "Suspect in Brussels Attack Had Sympathy for Islamic State". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  30. ^ "Islamic State claims Brussels stabbing attack". Times of Israel. AFP. 26 August 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  31. ^ Emmott, Robin (2017-06-21). "Brussels station attacker was secretive loner". Reuters.
  32. ^ "Attacks in Europe signal shift in terrorists' tactics". Fox News. 26 June 2017.
  33. ^ Birnbaum, Michael (21 June 2017). "Attempted Brussels attack 'could have been far worse,' Belgian prime minister says". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  34. ^ a b c Warrick, Joby (20 July 2017). "A battered ISIS grows ever more dependent on lone wolves, simple plans". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  35. ^ Katz, Rita (6 November 2017). "Is ISIS' Comment on the Manhattan Attack Out of the Ordinary? Not Really". SITE Intelligence Group. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  36. ^ European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2018 (TE SAT 2018) (PDF). Europol. 2018. p. 25. ISBN 978-92-95200-91-3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  37. ^ "Free Short URL Shortner - Oke.io". oke.io. Archived from the original on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
  38. ^ Lesaffer, Pieter (22 June 2017). "Niemand twijfelt nog aan militairen op straat". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). pp. 4–5.
  39. ^ Barnes, Julian (25 June 2017). "Bungled Attacks, Small Operations Signal New Phase in Terror". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  40. ^ Pascarelli, Paige (10 September 2017). "Identities 'Betwixt and between': analyzing Belgian representation in 'homegrown' extremism". Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression. 10 (3): 225–248. doi:10.1080/19434472.2017.1374988. S2CID 149127863.