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Brussels: Sadly, A Predictable Tragedy

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 22/03/2016 Ramón Jáuregui
BRUSSELS © Carl Court via Getty Images BRUSSELS

Sadly, what happened this morning was predictable. Several months ago, we expected it. As the details of the Paris attacks were revealed, we discovered the involvement of the Brussels branch, and found out that for several years, the radical Islamism of ISIS had spread in Molenbeek and other neighborhoods of Brussels in spite of Belgian security services. Many predicted that an attack would eventually take place in this city.
In the week following the Paris attacks, the authorities were concerned about follow-up attacks. Soldiers could be seen on the streets every day, guarding official buildings as if there was a state of war in Brussels. The attack that took place this morning was seemingly expected.
What can I say that hasn't already been said? I must first acknowledge how painful this tragedy is, and to extend condolences to the families of so many innocent victims. Again, we feel helpless before these people. Again, everyday life is interrupted by a barrage of news. Death tolls grow, and security measures are implemented, restricting movement and interrupting plans.
This is how things are in Brussels today. We found ourselves locked up in Parliament. Suspending activities. We called for moments of silence. We changed travel plans. We await news.

It is unacceptable that tensions between Europeans themselves undermine the security of all citizens, and it is urgent to overcome those fears to be more efficient in the fight against terror.

"We are at war," said Manuel Valls, the French prime minister. Of course, this war is very different from those we encountered during the previous century. In the nearby Ypres, a small Belgian town in which more than 500,000 people died during World War I, there is a museum commemorating the horrible, bloody war. These wars are different, but I fear that what we are witnessing now is indeed a war. I also fear it will be long.
What can we do? Here are three urgent topics we must consider:1. Create a unified body of European police intelligence. Since 2004, Europe has suffered terrorist attacks at the hands of perpetrators that share similar ideological origins and strategic objectives. But our policemen respond within their respective national territories, with little interconnection mechanisms beyond those provided by Europol. The instruments of police and judicial cooperation and coordination on intelligence remain insufficient. Despite successive attempts to launch intensive information exchanges -- at least from 2010 -- they haven't done anything; I'd like to hear from anyone with contrary evidence. It is unacceptable that tensions between Europeans themselves undermine the security of all citizens, and it is urgent to overcome those fears to be more efficient in the fight against terror.
2. European anti-terrorism policy coordination with US security agencies must improve, and be backed by foreign relations with the countries of the Maghreb and Mashreq; implemented strategically and coordinated at a European level. The latter is simply not happening now; on the contrary, Middle East interests collide with national dissenting views. This current scenario prevents Europe from stabilizing the area. Stability of the region, after all, is essential to fighting the Islamic State with any chance of success. The United Nations has recognized that this goal is key to peace in the world, so let's get to work.
3. We need a clear policy for the Muslim population in Europe.It is necessary to develop a policy of integration in the neighborhoods with the highest concentration of young people vulnerable to the trap of jihadism. Providing a vision of the future in the form of jobs and opportunities, while controlling any growth in radicalized networks is the best way to prevent many European citizens from radicalizing. And let us not forget that these people are often European citizens who radicalize into terrorists or foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq and then return to Europe. Above all, we must count on the people in our neighborhoods. Militant jihadist terrorism must be fought and beaten by Islam and Muslims for peace. And we must help them.
This post first appeared on HuffPost Spain. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.

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