Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Brussels terrorism

I was going to comment on Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's column in yesterday's Independent anyway, but the terrible news (which is still coming in as I write) from Brussels makes it increasingly dreadfully timely. The BBC's Frank Gardner reports that Molenbeek, the municipality of Belgium's capital region where the organiser of the Paris bombings was allowed to hide for the last four months, has become the centre of militant jihad not only for Belgium and France, but also for the whole of western Europe. It seems that the terrorist organisation has been able to make use of the lack of cooperation between the French-speaking and Dutch-speaking police forces, and between both of these and the Belgian security forces. There is even a rumour that the police in Brussels are getting more security information from their counterparts in London because there is close coordination in the UK, and the UK and Belgian security services talk to each other!

But the disjointed nature of security measures in Brussels only enabled the Molenbeek cell to thrive; it needed an outside force to sow the seeds. Ms Alibhai-Brown identifies that force as Saudi Wahhabism. Disaffected Muslims from North Africa left stranded when the industrial boom which led to their recruitment fizzled out were ready receivers of the Wahhabist message. As I may have mentioned before, the Saudis were proselytising among Sunnis in Syria leading up to the civil war in 2011, which fits the pattern.

It has long been assumed in the West that the worst promoters of terrorism are Syria and Iran. However, one must now question the source of that intelligence. We know that both US and UK intelligence services, concentrating as they do on signals intelligence, are reliant on friendly third parties for information on the ground. Mossad is one of those sources; perhaps we rely on the Saudi intelligence services as well.

Tonight's ITV documentary "uncovering" Saudi Arabia is of interest.

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