The Attacks on Brussels

An injured man lies at the scene of explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ketevan Kardava/Courtesy of via Reuters
An injured man lies at the scene of explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ketevan Kardava/Courtesy of via Reuters

At least 30 people were killed and scores injured in terrorist attacks on Brussels today, March 22. Reports and analysis on Facts and Opinions, listed below, provide the crucial information as well as the deep context.

Rescue workers treat victims outside the Maelbeek underground station, in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/RTL Belgium via Reuters TV
Rescue workers treat victims outside the Maelbeek underground station, in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/RTL Belgium via Reuters TV

But first, a note. Soon, if they have not already, critics will complain that those of us in developed countries pay undue attention to horrific events in our own realms, while ignoring the horrific events in less familiar, sometimes less developed, places. There is truth to such allegations — but the critics are wilfully ignoring human reality. Horror, or terror, if you prefer, is not an abstract concept. It is a response of the gut, a wrenching of the soul, and no matter where it happens when we have been in a place that has been ravaged, when the faces of the stricken are familiar to us, we respond fully.

Many of us have passed through the Brussels airport hit by attackers today, on business with the nearby European Union headquarters, as tourists, as travellers. In recent years I spent two days roaming the halls that were bombed today, stranded there by mechanical problems on my scheduled flight. It is easy to look at the photos in F&O’s pages, and imagine myself there. Or, almost worse, to imagine the people I know who live or spend time in Brussels.

The critics who call on us to pay equal attention to all benighted places in the world do have a point: all troubles of the world cry for attention. But there is a a larger point: we are all connected. The goal is not to wallow emotionally in all the various horrors, or give equal time everywhere like automatons. The goal is to minimize, and then eliminate, their complex causes.

Deborah Jones

Here are two pieces about today’s attacks, and more from our archives that provide context:

A soldier is seen at Zaventem airport after a blast occurred, in Belgium March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jef Versele/Handout via Reuters
A soldier after a blast at Zaventem airport, Belgium, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jef Versele/Handout via Reuters

Brussels Attacks: 30 Killed, Islamic State Claims Responsibility. By Philip Blenkinsop and Francesco Guarascio

Islamic State claimed responsibility for suicide bomb attacks on Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train in the Belgian capital March 22, 2016, which killed at least 30 people, with police hunting a suspect who fled the air terminal.

Brussels Attacks: Deadly Circles of Terror. By Sebastian Rotella

Over the past several months, Belgian counterterror officials told me they were working nonstop to prevent an attack and that the danger had never been so high. Today, March 22, 2016, their worst fears came true when coordinated bombings struck the airport and a subway stop in Brussels.

From F&O’s Archives:

  1. Why the Paris attackers were based in Molenbeek, by Martin Conway, University of Oxford. Analysis
  2. Paris, Pilots and our rhetoric around ISIS, SHELDON FERNANDEZ, Essay
  3. Why ISIS is winning, with America’s help, TOM REGAN: Summoning Orenda Column
  4. Soldiers patrol Brussels, raids lead to arrests, GABRIELA BACZYNSKA & PHILIP BLENKINSOP  Report
  5. The View From Counterterror’s Front Lines , SEBASTIAN ROTELLA, ProPublica  Report
  6. Suicide Bombing: history’s least successful military tactic, JONATHAN MANTHORPE, International Affairs Column
  7. Our selective grief: Paris, Beirut, Ankara, and Syria, TOM REGAN: Summoning Orenda Column
  8. France vows “merciless” response, Reuters  Report
  9. Notebook: IS claims responsibility, world reacts, Reuters  Report
  10. Scores killed in Paris attacks,  Reuters, Report & Photo-gallery




Rob Ford, who achieved global infamy as the controversial, attention-seeking, and drug-addicted former mayor of Canada’s largest city, died today. Here’s a F&O column I wrote about him during his heyday in 2013, and here’s a link to the Canadian Press report on his death. Here’s a recommended read: Toronto journalist John Lorinc looked beyond his infamy – and avoided mawkish mouthings about the death of a young father — to  praise Ford’s unintended gift to his city. Go to Spacing’s site to read Rob Ford, 1969-2016: A legacy he never intended, by John Lorinc.

America’s National Public Radio takes a look at how a new Pew study on lifelong learning plays out in real-life: For Adults, Lifelong Learning Happens The Old Fashioned Way, by Elissa Nadworny, NPR.

Last but not least, this is a great read for nature lovers: Parrots Are a Lot More Than ‘Pretty Bird’, Natalie Angier, The New York Times. Excerpt:

“Dr. Masello is one of a small but unabashedly enthusiastic circle of researchers who study Psittaciformes, the avian order that includes parrots, parakeets, macaws and cockatoos. For all their visual splash and cartoon familiarity, parrots have long been given scientific short shrift in favor of more amenable subjects like, say, zebra finches or blue tits. …. go to Angier’s story 


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