The terror cell behind Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels and last November’s Paris massacre had their sights set on a high-casualty strike against a nuclear power plant in Flanders, Belgium.
When Belgian police apprehended Salah Abdeslam on Friday, March 18, they prevented what could have been the single most devastating terror attack in history. Abdeslam’s arrest triggered the Brussels terror network to downgrade their plans, quickly attacking soft targets at the airport and metro.
Brussels La Dernière Heure newspaper reported Thursday that Abdeslam’s network had targeted Belgium’s nuclear power plants in attacks that would have been catastrophic. Footage obtained by investigators identified Tuesday’s suicide bombers, Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui, planting a hidden camera in front of the home of the director of the Belgian nuclear research program.
Ten hours of this footage had been seized in December 2015, during an anti-terrorist raid of the apartment of Mohammed Bakkali, who belonged to the same terror cell.
The cell had identified and tracked the program director for months, constituting a major security breach and leading to questions about the effectiveness of Belgium’s security services. Authorities indicated this week that the Brussels terrorist cell was also behind the November 2015 Paris attacks that saw over 130 people killed, including seven perpetrators.
The Tihange nuclear plant, a likely target of the plot, was evacuated following the Tuesday bombings in Brussels, and is presently guarded by the national army.
The incident is not the first time that terrorists have looked to attack a nuclear site in Belgium. In 2003, former Belgian-Tunisian professional soccer player Nizar Trabelsi plotted to attack an American airbase in Flanders, Belgium, where nuclear missiles are stored. Trabelsi was apprehended and extradited to the US, where he remains in custody.
Belgium has Europe’s highest known per capita participation rate in jihadist groups like Daesh. According to figures from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, Belgium supplies 40 jihadists per million inhabitants to the fighting in Syria and Iraq. In the study, Denmark comes in a distant second place with 27 jihadists per million.
As the capital of the European Union, Brussels has a population that is more than one quarter Muslim, leading to fears of future crackdowns against the minority population.
Investigators are aware of multiple additional ISIS plots in Europe possibly linked to the Paris and Brussels networks that are in various stages of planning.
A combination of electronic intercepts, human sources and database tracking indicates several possible targets had been picked out by the ISIS operatives over the last few months since the Paris attacks, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials.
Since the attacks earlier this week, information found in a raided apartment, including maps, indicated other potential targets had been chosen, one of the sources said.
According to a senior Belgian counter-terrorism official, investigators believe the Brussels ISIS cell were composed of two teams who were planning a larger attack or series of attacks in Belgium at a later date. After police discovered Salah Abdeslam's hiding place on Tuesday last week, investigators believe the second team, including suspected bomb-maker Najim Laachraoui, accelerated their timetable. They believe the second team consisted of the Bakraoui brothers and at least two others now on the run.
Officials fear there are dozens of potential and known ISIS operatives still in Europe they're concerned about and some of them may overlap with the Paris and Brussels attackers. One of the sources says plots haven't been disrupted either because the information about the plots is too fragmentary or because investigators are trying to gather more intelligence. The source also stressed that the situation with the plots is very fluid and can change very quickly depending on the opportunity for the operatives some of whom have been trained by ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Another official cautioned that there are multiple threat streams but not all get verified.
ISIS has released a video compiled using the group's file footage, urging its fighters in the West to carry out more attacks.
"There's evidence these guys are floating around in Europe and haven't been rounded up yet and hope to launch an attack," one official said, adding, "there's a constant drumbeat and fear something else is going to happen."
The concern was reflected in a State Department alert warning U.S. citizens traveling to Europe that terrorists continue to plot near term attacks.
It reflected a wider concern about the growing number of ISIS devotees who have been to Syria and Iraq and since returned. Ahead of the Paris attacks, Western intelligence received fragmentary information that ISIS external operations division dispatched 60 operatives to hit five cities, including Paris, London, Berlin, a major city in Belgium and another city. Paris mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud boasted of some 90 ISIS operatives already in Europe.
I suggest you not read this story until your breakfast is fully digested.
The Obama administration has been secretly returning artifacts in the possession of the U.S. back to Iran as part of a general "détente" with the terrorist regime. They also transferred nearly $2 billion in taxpayer money to Tehran and are discussing more as part of a settlement dealing with Iran's claims. The information is contained in a letter from a State Department official obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Absolutely no word on any U.S. claims regarding the appropriation of U.S. property, including our embassy, nor damages paid to American hostages for being held more than a year as prisoners.
“After nearly two months of stalling, the State Department confirmed what I feared was true: the Obama administration is negotiating behind closed doors with the Islamic Republic of Iran and using taxpayer dollars to pay the regime,” Pompeo said in a statement on the letter. “Worse yet, more of these payments are likely coming.”
“Secretary Kerry still refuses to answer whether the $1.7 billion U.S. payment to Iran was related to the release of American hostages held by Iran,” Pompeo continued. “While we celebrate the return of these hostages, this administration could be setting a dangerous precedent, as innocent Americans continue to be held in Iran. I will not stop until we have all of the answers and will do all in my power to stop the Obama administration’s dangerous Iran policy.”
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised at this nauseating groveling by the Obama administration. The Iranians kidnap our diplomats, trash the embassy and turn it into a museum, and financed terrorist attacks against the U.S., including the bombing of our Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Meanwhile, Obama genuflects before the mullahs and unilaterally parts with cash and artifacts.
I don't think even Hillary Clinton would stoop so low. She, at least, has a far more realistic view of Iran and doesn't see the Iranians as the benign holy men Obama sees. But the damage done is irreparable. We are trapped by a treaty that is impossible to police, and by the time anyone gets into office who could alter it, most of Iran's frozen assets will have been returned.
In just under 100 days, on June 23, Britain will decide whether it will leave the European Union. A British exit – Brexit – will restore the sovereignty of the House of Commons, encourage other EU member nations to look for the door, and shake the leadership of the governing Conservative party. But while the starting gun in the race has been fired, one of the runners has not yet officially stepped on to the track.
Britain has strict rules governing how much contestants can spend in an election or referendum. Because of this, and before the campaign can begin in full earnest, the Electoral Commission has to pick who will be fighting for Brexit, and, thus, who will be spending the money on its behalf. This designation of the official opposition to the government's preferred policy of remaining in the EU will come in the second week of April, and it's partly around this question of designation that uncertainty will swirl for the next few weeks. But the battle for the designation is not a gentlemanly business – it's a cover for deeper divisions.
The history of British opposition to the EU – and its various antecedents – has, from the late 1950s, been riddled with two abiding sins: refusal to unite for a common purpose, and inability to disassociate the movement from discreditable elements. The EU's backers may be relentlessly credulous about Europe's economic advantages, and ready, willing, and able to lie about the nature of the EU's drive for political unity, but they have always had the advantages that belong to the establishment: they have a clear line; they are well-organized, and they know what they want. This time around, sadly, little has changed. During a recent visit to London, almost every corner of the Eurosceptic movement resounded with private, bitter resentment at the disunity and factionalism of the Brexit campaign. This disunity is personified by the groups contending for the official designation: Vote Leave and Grassroots Out.
The government's major asset is the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who began his tussle with the EU by asserting it needed fundamental reforms, and has now consented to campaign on its behalf. But the loincloth of concessions he won from Brussels was so skimpy that it is obviously embarrassing to wear it in public. The EU's supporters thus rely on two other tactics: lining up the great and the good to endorse the EU, and proclaiming that life as currently known in Britain will come to an end if it leaves the EU—an effort derided by Brexit's backers as "Project Fear.
The effectiveness of these approaches remains to be seen. But in an era where the establishment is at a discount everywhere, it's far from clear that encouraging members of the establishment to explain to the public that the establishment is actually really great is a reliable path to victory. The scare stories are more likely to have an impact, but they've been overdone before the campaign has even officially started: when I was London, the latest intervention was by the physicist Stephen Hawking, who had lined up his colleagues to proclaim that Brexit would cripple British science. It makes one wonder how CERN, the world-leading physics center, manages to get by in Switzerland, which isn't in the EU.
The leaders of Democracy Spring, a coalition of far-left groups plotting a mass civil disobedience movement to begin next month, told Breitbart News they have already confirmed 2,912 protesters who pledged specifically to risk arrest.
Those protesters signed an option on the coalition’s website explicitly stating, “I pledge to be one among thousands who will risk arrest to save democracy in DC between April 11 – 16.”
Other pledge options for protests include:
*I pledge to come to Washington DC to support the sit in through legal protest but cannot risk arrest.
*I want to join the march from Philadelphia to Washington DC, sometime between April 2 – 11.
*I want to volunteer to help organize this campaign.
Kai Newkirk, Democracy Spring’s campaign director, explained that his team called each of the 2,912 protesters pledging to risk arrest and spent about twenty minutes on the phone expounding on the movement’s goals as well as helping to coordinate travel and logistics.
“People are coming from Montana, Seattle, and other states around the country,” Newkirk told Breitbart News in a phone interview. “They are driving, taking buses, flying, because there are so many people from across the political spectrum that are just tired of the status quo of a democracy that works for the super rich and not for the everyday American. They want to take this stand to say enough.”
Newkirk said he is “confident” that “if Congress doesn’t respond to our demands and they would rather send people to jail, then it will be the largest civil disobedience of the century.”
Next month’s Democracy Spring chaos is set to begin with a meetup on April 2 at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. The group then plans to march across the East Coast and initiate a sit-in in Washington, DC, starting April 11.
Updates to the group’s website stress April 11 as the intended main escalation.
The updated logistics page now states: “We want to make the biggest impact on day one: Monday, April 11th. With massive participation on April 11th, we’ll have the momentum and energy to break through as a national media story and mobilize the support to carry us through the 16th and beyond.”
Newkirk confirmed that the plan is to start with a big splash on April 11.
Last week, this reporter penned a widely-read article documenting that with little fanfare and almost no news media attention, some of the same radical groups involved in shutting down Donald Trump’s Chicago rally earlier this month are plotting a mass civil disobedience movement under the banner of Democracy Spring.
The pro-Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
MoveOn.org has been playing a prominent role in organizing anti-Trump activism, including in the recent shutdown of the billionaire’s rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion.
Another group endorsing Democracy Spring is the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The DSA’s Chicago branch drove protesters to the nixed Chicago Trump event, as this reporter exposed.
The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, announced in a press release earlier this month it is “all in behind Democracy Spring,” perhaps indicating significant mobilization.