On March 22, 2016, 30 people died and 260 were wounded after the bombings at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station in Brussels. Authorities issued a level four attack canceling all flights in and out of Brussels. Zaventem airport and Maelbeek station were then evacuated and closed to gather evidence of who was responsible for these attacks. The timeline of the day moved fast as authorities took action. MSNBC reported the timeline of the events as follows:
At 7:55 a.m. three suspicious people were seen pushing luggage through Zaventem airport after getting out of a taxi. At 8:00 a.m. gunshots were heard in the airport. Less than a second later another explosion was heard and chaos broke out. Forty minutes later the explosions were confirmed and the area was evacuated.
Explosions were reported at Maalbeek metro station at 9:10 a.m. and the system was closed minutes after. French President Francois Hollande held an emergency meeting with government officials at 9:27 a.m. Thirty-three minutes later the decision was made at this meeting to shut down all public transportation. This included streets, cars, buses, trains and flights going in and out of Belgium. Two hundred twenty-five troops and 16 hundred police officers were dispatched to monitor Brussels at 11:30 a.m. followed shortly after by an announcement from the Belgian federal prosecutor confirming that the attacks had in fact been terror attacks.
ISIS took credit for the attacks by saying, “Islamic State fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices on Tuesday, targeting an airport and a central metro station in the center of the Belgian capital Brussels, a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State,” according to the ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency.
“It’s definitely a tragedy and all of Europe is sadly being targeted,” said junior Aidan Merritt.
Europe should become more prepared and be more coordinated with the attacks. ISIS is starting to focus more on terror attacks in western cities, specifically in Europe. This is different from ISIS’s original goal of territorial domination in the Middle East.
ISIS targeting Europe endangers the refugee population because they are being sought out by recruiters. ISIS is able to recruit soldiers easily by taking advantage of popular apps and hacking into them. Popular apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, and Viber are used to communicate to purchase weapons and fake ID’s. These are then used to enter countries by ISIS terrorists without detection. Currently, 78 ISIS channels have been shut down on these apps. Lastly, the number of younger recruits is growing by the day. They are more impressionable and expand quicker than adults.
After the attacks in Brussels, the home of NATO is not going to back down in their fight against terror. The victims of the attack, came from all over including Belgium, Colombia, Peru, France, Germany, Britain, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the US. Police say the task of identifying the dead in the attacks was slowed by the violence of the explosions and because there were so many foreigners. The victims who were identified are still in the hospital and recovering.
One month after the attack, Zaventem airport has been reopened while Maelbeek station still remains closed.