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People stand for a moment of silence during the one-year anniversary of the Brussels attacks, Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2017 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Belgium’s New Laws Are Making Counterterrorism More Difficult

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

One year ago, a series of terrorist attacks struck the Brussels international airport and a metro station, killing 35 and injuring hundreds. The incident occurred just months after Belgium was thrust into the center of discussions about the terror threat facing Europe, when it was revealed that a Belgian national had coordinated attacks on a concert hall and other sites in Paris, killing 130 people and injuring hundreds more. That man, 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was among the many Belgian citizens who had gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with the so-called Islamic State, making Belgium Europe’s largest per capita exporter of jihadis.

Criticism of the country’s lackluster security apparatus—and of European security more broadly—ensued, prompting a revamping of domestic security laws that has worried human rights groups. Following the attacks, the government deployed thousands of soldiers to major cities, and police conducted hundreds of raids, which human rights investigators say have led to beatings and the excessive use of force. ...

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