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Attacks in Belgium a Symptom of Government Failure

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

What do you get when you ignore a hotbed of jihadism located just a few miles from the base of European government? Tragedy.

Belgian authorities have labeled as terrorism a series of attacks Tuesday morning in Brussels that killed more than 30 people and injured dozens of others. Not long after two explosions ripped through the Brussels airport, there was a rush-hour explosion at the Maalbeek metro station near the driver's seat of Europe itself: the European Commission, where meetings were canceled as soon as this political boomerang crashed through the window.

It's not a stretch to imagine that this latest wave of attacks had something to do with last week's arrest of Salah Abdeslam, 26, a suspect in last year's coordinated Paris terrorist attacks that killed 130 people and injured hundreds more. Following the attacks, authorities reportedly believed that Abdeslam, whose brother detonated a suicide bomb at Le Comptoir Voltaire restaurant, had fled to Syria.

Although I'd like to think the admission that a dangerous terrorist had somehow dropped off the radar of authorities was just a ruse to make the suspect think they'd lost his scent, perhaps it's not wise to attribute to wile what could be easily ascribed to incompetence.

Abdeslam was arrested less than a half-mile from his mother's house in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, a notorious jihadist nest that was temporarily placed under martial law in the wake of the Paris attacks. Molenbeek has been tied to a number of terrorist attacks, including the 2004 Madrid train bombings and last year's Thalys train attack that was thwarted by several passengers.

The mayor of Molenbeek from 1993 to 2012 was Philippe Moureaux, a member of the Socialist Party known for his hands-off approach to the radical jihadism that was festering right under his nose. Socialist policies often seem designed to not make local minority populations feel uncomfortable -- which in itself is an inherently racist worldview toward law-abiding citizens who happen to be minorities. By not imposing the sort of safety standards that are common in other municipalities, Socialist leaders expose law-abiding minorities in the area to a greater threat. Why should they have to suffer the consequences of policies that pander to the criminal element?

But it's not just socialist policies that have fed the jihadist threat in Molenbeek. European policies and the incompetence of the Belgian government are also to blame. (Belgian politics, much like Belgian society, is so fractured that the nation went 589 days without an official government in 2010-2011 because opposing parties were unable to form a coalition following the federal elections. Nothing says "hey, we've got this" quite like being unable to form a government.) After French President Francois Hollande indicated that some of the Paris attackers were from Belgium, Alain Chouet, the former head of France's foreign intelligence service, was widely quoted as saying that the Belgians aren't up to snuff in terms of security efforts.

Belgium's proposed solution to terrorism is to just jack up the budget. Last year, shortly after the Paris attacks, the Belgian government announced a plan to reach into taxpayers' wallets for 400 million euros to combat the threat. Instead, Belgian leaders might want to consider taking a stroll down the street to European Union headquarters and explaining that the nation's security resources have been stretched to the breaking point by European EU policies that effectively erase national borders and sovereignty, and by the perpetual push to import even more newcomers from terror-ridden countries.

Brussels has become a point of convergence for jihadism, socialism and government ineptitude -- with tragic results. The city also now serves as a cautionary tale for other places sliding in the same direction.

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