There have been a lot of inexcusable acts of terror that could have been prevented by the authorities. But this one may very well take the cake.
A knife-wielding prison inmate on a 48-hour leave stabbed two police officers Tuesday in the Belgian city of Liege, seized their service weapons and shot them and a bystander to death before being mowed down by a group of officers, setting off a major terror investigation into the country’s most savage assault since 2016 suicide attacks.
Prime Minister Charles Michel acknowledged the assailant, who had a lengthy criminal record that included theft, assault and drug offenses, had appeared in three reports on radicalism but was still allowed to take a leave from prison.
Why not? Anything else would have been Islamophobic.
Tuesday’s attack happened outside a cafe in the eastern city of Liege when the assailant crept up on the two female officers from behind and stabbed them repeatedly.
“He then took their weapons. He used the weapons on the officers, who died,” the Liege prosecutor’s spokesman, Philippe Dulieu, told reporters.
Freed prisoner on leave, despite being an Islamic terrorist, ambushed two female officers, stabbed them, took their weapons, killed them, and shot other police officers.
I worry that in this ruthless crackdown on terrorists, the Belgians may be too harsh on them.
Now it’s time to ponder his motives.
Asked about a video from close to the scene in which someone appeared to be shouting “Allahu Akbar!” in the din, Jambon said: “My reaction is that in many terror acts, it is the last thing they shout.” But, he added, it is up to federal investigators to determine if Tuesday’s attack was terrorism.
Let’s not discuss why they might shout such a thing while committing inexplicable acts of violence that they don’t expect to survive. Or what ISIS, which took credit for the attack, believes.
Interior Minister Jan Jambon said authorities were still examining the motives of Benjamin Herman, a 31-year-old Belgian drug dealer who had been in jail for years but was let out for two days on Monday to prepare for an eventual release in 2020.
Herman had shouted “Allahu Akbar”, the Muslim affirmation of faith, during his attack and he had had contact with Islamist radicals in jail in 2016 and early 2017.
He also appeared to have followed online exhortations from Islamic State to stab police officers and use their service weapons to shoot others, prosecutors said.
So I assume the motives will be mental illness and drug use. As usual. And if you question that, you’ll be locked up with a gag order.
Convicts have been behind several Islamist militant attacks in Europe. In Belgium, around 450 prisoners are deemed radical, including 46 that are seen as a threat of radicalizing others, according to lawmaker George Dallemagne, who sits on several Belgian parliamentary security committees.
“We have a tragic experience in Belgium, with people entering prison as petty criminals and leaving as terrorists,” he told Reuters.
If only there was some way to put all the terrorists in an isolated facility. Like say, Guantanamo Bay.