Yesterday’s attack in Brussels has once again brought Islamophobic tactics to the forefront of the national security conversation. In the last 24 hours, Presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have stated on multiple national news shows that they believe “Muslim neighborhoods” should be patrolled by law enforcement to prevent anyone from radicalizing.
National security expert and the host of WGBH’s Security Mom podcast assured listeners on Boston Public Radio today that a specific set of circumstances has caused Belgium to produce more ISIS fighters per capita than any other European country. She says calling for a national surveillance of all Muslims in the US would be futile.
“I want to remind people, that there are six million Muslims in America… maybe 30 are active participants and inherent to Isis, and would have planned attacks. That is a pretty good ratio.”
Kayyem says that the emphasis in the United States to assimilate and join the American culture has allowed many immigrants, including Muslim immigrants, to feel at home in their adopted country. This has prevented systemic radicalization from happening in this country. The same cannot be said for Belgium and other European countries.
“Europe has a problem, they have groups of populations identified by nationality and religion that do not feel hope or a future in Europe. They can be educated, they can even have jobs, but they do not feel Europe is home. These are the men that then become radicalized and essentially destroy their country of birth,” Kayyem said.
Brussels is now a “hotbed” for terrorism, Kayyem says. The Belgian government has helped to create a breeding ground for radicalized Muslim youths. Since the majority of the men going to Syria and to ISIS have criminal records, Belgian officials were willing to turn the other way if it meant they left the country.
“It was like they didn’t have a long term plan. They knew that this group of men were leaving and they were happy to have them leave because they were criminals in Belgium. It is a joke when you think about it. Of course, the problem has now come back to Europe,” Kayyem said
Kayyem believes, while Belgium is now working toward fixing their security issues, it will not be enough to stop future attacks. “I do not think they will be solved before the next terrorist attack, that’s why people need to brace themselves for it,” she said.