With just over a week having passed since the horrific attacks on Paris by Islamists, there is a realization that this is likely not the end but the beginning. French police having raided several suspected safe houses resulting in the deaths of the ringleader and two others. But, with other suspects still on the loose and possibly in Belgium, Brussels is preparing for the worse.
Belgium put the capital Brussels on maximum security alert on Saturday, shutting the metro and warning people to avoid crowds because of a “serious and imminent” threat of coordinated, multiple attacks by militants.
A week after the Paris bombings and shootings carried out by Islamic State militants, of whom one suspect from Brussels is at large and said by police to be highly dangerous, Brussels was placed on the top level “four” in the government’s threat scale after a meeting of top ministers, police and security services.
The raising of this threat level has brought out a very unnerving situation in Brussels. There are soldiers, seen and unseen now patrolling the streets. They are not only tolerated, they are welcomed by the citizens. They feel that they are in danger, and the military presence may deter danger. But at what cost?
When we talk about the fact that the terrorists have certain aims in mind, we see that some of them will be reached regardless of his success. No matter how well he does, the desired effect is unavoidable. There will be fear, there will be economic effects, and there will be over reaction.
One of the desired effects is, of course, fear. But, what that fear produces is more important. When we see people attacked in public by heartless Muslims, we desire our government’s protection. When Muslims enter coffee houses and bars and blow themselves up, we want the military to step in and prevent the next attack. The terrorist knows this, and he uses it to his advantage.
Heavily armed police and soldiers patrolled key intersections of the Belgian capital Saturday morning, a city of more than 1 million that is home to the headquarters of the European Union, the NATO alliance and officers of many multinational corporations. Residents were recommended to avoid gatherings, train stations, airports and commercial districts. Service was halted on the Brussels Metro, as well as on streetcar lines that run underground, and residents were urged to stay indoors.
And Reuters continues
The agency has called on local authorities to cancel large events and postpone soccer matches, as well as stepping up the military and police presence.
Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said that 1,000 troops were now available for patrols, double the level of a week earlier.
This presence of military and police will at first bring comfort to the civilians who will venture out. Those who have a need to go to procure food or other essentials will be glad that the troops are there. But how long will they have to stay there? What if the terrorist connected to the Paris attacks is not found? Will they stay at this level indefinitely?
If this is the answer to terror, then the terrorist wins. He has cost us money, hurt our economy and has restricted our freedom. He has reached all his desired ends for attacking us.