01:10 GMT15 June 2021
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    Terrorist Attacks in Paris (254)
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    The overcrowded borough of Molenbeek in Brussels is a safe haven for radical Islamists: it is here where jihadists acquire weapons, find logistical support and networks to carry out terrorists attacks in Europe, the mayor of Molenbeek said, according to Reuters.

    Belgian authorities arrested two residents of Molenbeek who were involved in a series of terrorist attacks in Paris.

    The absurdity of the situation is that Molenbeek is in a short driving distance from the headquarters of NATO and the European Commission. In other words, there is a breeding ground for Islamic extremism and the main offices of both NATO and the EU coexisting in Brussels, literally at the heart of Europe.

    "With 500 — 1,000 euros you can get a military weapon in half an hour," said Bilal Benyaich, senior fellow at Brussels think-tank the Itinera Institute, who has studied the spread of radical Islam in Belgium, according to Reuters.

    "It's like an airbase for jihadists," Benyaich said, adding that the heavily-immigrant populated district of Brussels serves as a safe haven for terrorists.

    Muslim youth become radicalized and then go to Syria to fight, and when they come back to Europe they find support in Molenbeek. Radicals can not only easily purchase weapons, but also find accomplices and plan out terrorist acts both in Belgium and abroad, the expert on terrorism explained.

    Molenbeek has had a number of connections to Islamist attacks in Europe. During the 2004 train bombings in Madrid one of the attackers was a Molenbeek resident of a Moroccan ancestry. A shooter at the Brussels' Jewish Museum in August 2014 was also living in the notorious Brussels district.

    • Security forces personnel walk past during ongoing operations in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015
      Security forces personnel walk past during ongoing operations in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015
      © AFP 2021 / BELGA PHOTO / BENOIT DOPPAGNE
    • A placard reading Molenbeek with a peace and love sign is seen in a shopping street in the suburb of Molenbeek, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris on Friday, in Brussels, Belgium, November 17, 2015
      A placard reading Molenbeek with a "peace and love sign" is seen in a shopping street in the suburb of Molenbeek, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris on Friday, in Brussels, Belgium, November 17, 2015
      © REUTERS / Yves Herman
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    © AFP 2021 / BELGA PHOTO / BENOIT DOPPAGNE
    Security forces personnel walk past during ongoing operations in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015

    Furthermore, the perpetrators of the Charlie Hedbo attacks and the Moroccan shooter, who bought an AK-47 and close to 300 bullets, on a Brussels to Paris train in August also bought their weapons there.

    And finally, two Belgian citizens, later identified as Hamza Attou and Mohamed Amri, were detained in Molenbeek in connection with the Paris attacks. When the men were arrested, their belongings tested positive for ammonium nitrate, which is used to manufacture explosives. Weapon munitions, in the form of 5.56- and 7.62-mm cartridges, were found in the apartment.

    Topic:
    Terrorist Attacks in Paris (254)

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    Tags:
    NATO, terrorist, Paris Attacks, European Union, Bilal Benyaich, Molenbeek, Belgium
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