It is shocking that they let their guard down for so long. Check this out.
Belgium’s government sought to contain criticism of its handling of the Brussels attacks on Sunday but acknowledged that neglect over decades had caused deficiencies that have hampered an effective response to violent extremism.
Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the government has invested 600 million euros ($670 million) into police and security services over the past two years but said its antiquated justice system and security services were still lagging behind.
Jambon, whose offer to resign on Thursday was declined by the prime minister, said errors were made prior to the Mar. 22 suicide bombing attacks in Brussels that killed at least 31 people and wounded 270 others.
But, speaking on the VRT network, Jambon said hiring anti-terror specialists and specialized equipment does not happen in weeks or months and insisted that new investments need time before they become visible to the public.
As international pressure on Belgium mounted for serving as an unwitting rear-base for extremist fighters who launched the Nov. 13 massacres that left 130 dead in Paris, the government has been forced to defend its choices and the actions of investigators. Lawmakers, meanwhile, are demanding an inquiry.
Belgian police and the army have been deployed, sometimes around the clock, at major buildings and sites in the capital in increasing numbers since November, when Brussels went into lockdown over fears that top Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam had returned and was hiding there.
As it turned out, Abdeslam did return, but police did not find and arrest him until Mar. 18, four days before suspects from his network exploded suicide bombs in Brussels.
Belgian investigators have been slammed for not questioning Abdeslam long enough or hard enough after he was shot in the leg during his arrest. Police have also been criticized for taking too long to get to Zaventem airport on Tuesday morning after two suicide bombers blew themselves up there — and left an even bigger third suitcase full of explosives.
“There have been errors,” Jambon said Sunday, when questioned by VRT television about his offer to resign.
Jambon and Justice Minister Keen Goens were grilled by lawmakers Friday over how authorities failed to arrest suicide bomber Ibrahim El Bakraoui before he blew himself in the packed departure hall at Brussels Airport.