Terrorist activity in Belgium

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This article covers attacks and activity of terrorism in Belgium.

Jihadist base[edit]

Belgium has been the base of operations for a number of terrorist attacks in the 2010s, including the November 2015 Paris attacks.[1] It has also been the place where some Islamist militants developed militant views before going to the Middle East to fight with ISIS.[1]

Belgium has a population of 11 million including large numbers of immigrants from Muslim countries. 100,000 Moroccan citizens live in Belgium, often descended from Moroccans recruited to work in the mining industry in the 1960s; a small fraction of the children and grandchildren of the immigrant generation have been attracted to Militant Islamism and jihad. A tiny fraction of this large Muslim population has participated in terrorist attacks.[1] In a report by the Combating Terrorism Center, of the 135 individuals surveyed in connection with terrorism, there were 12 different nationalities. Of those 65% had Belgian citizenship and 33% were either Moroccan citizens or had ancestral roots there.[2]

Poor integration of the large Muslim minority, high levels of youth unemployment in that commuity, availability of weapons and Belgian political instability have been cited as reasons for the surge in extremist violence.[3]

In 2016, Belgian researcher estimated that about 562 individuals had travelled to become foreign fighters in the Syrian and Iraqi Civil Wars, the majority of whom joined the Islamic State with others joining the al-Qaida-affiliated group Al-Nusra Front.[4] The majority of those who went to the Syria in the 2012-2016 time span were of Moroccan descent according to U.S. and Belgian authorities.[5]

List of terrorist incidents[edit]

Attacks related to Middle East politics[edit]

  • 1 August 1985: Silco incident Kidnapping of Belgian-French family by the government of Libya; they were held for almost five years.[6]

Attacks related to Northern Ireland[edit]

  • 22 March 1979: A Belgian bank employee was shot by the Provisional IRA, who thought it was Sir John Killick.
  • 25 June 1979: An IRA bomb in Brussels targeted but failed to hit a British general.
  • 6 July 1979: An IRA bomb detonates in a British consulate building in Antwerp.
  • 29 August 1979: 1979 Brussels bombing. The IRA bombs the central square of Brussels whilst targeting British troops, injuring 15.
  • 3 November 1979: The British consulate in Antwerp is bombed by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).[8][9]

Antisemitic attacks[edit]

  • 28 July 1980: 1980 Antwerp summer camp attack. A Syria-born Palestinian, Said Al Nasr, used grenades to attack a group of 40 Jewish children waiting with their families for a bus to take them to summer camp. One boy was killed and 20 other people were wounded in the attack.[10] The explosion killed one boy, identified as 15-year-old Parisian David Kuhan, and wounded 20, aged 13 to 27, eight of whom had to be hospitalized,[10]

Far-left attacks[edit]

The Communist Combatant Cells was a communist terror organisation in Belgium who committed fourteen attacks in the country in 1984 and 1985. Its most serious attack is mentioned below.


Islamist attacks[edit]

Terrorism experts regard ISIS activities in Europe's Francophone area as a single, French-Belgian nexus of Islamic State activity and attacks.[13]

  • 29 May 2018: 2018 Liège attack. A prisoner left prison, stabbed two female police officers, took their guns, shot and killed them and a civilian in Liège, Belgium. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack done by a soldier of the caliphate.[23]

Other attacks[edit]

  • 6 December 1985: 1985 Liège bombing: The Liège courthouse is significantly damaged and one person is killed by a bomb attack by a lawyer.
  • The Brabant killers, a trio of bandits who killed 28 people in the 1980s, have been referred to as terrorists by some.[24]


  1. ^ a b c Schreuer, Milan (21 June 2017). "Brussels Train Station Bombing Renews Focus on Belgium as Jihadist Base". New York Times. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  2. ^ Van Vlierden, Guy; Lewis, Jon; Rassler, Don (February 2018). These circumstances contributes to private businesses having difficulties operating in the area (PDF). Combating Terrorism Center. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 February 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  3. ^ Burke, Jason (March 22, 2016). "Why did the bombers target Belgium?" – via www.theguardian.com.
  4. ^ Burke, Jason (2016-03-22). "Why did the bombers target Belgium?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  5. ^ "When It Comes To Radicalization In Belgium, Turks and Moroccans Are Different". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-03-10. More than 500 Belgians have left for Syria since 2012 and most of them, according to Belgian and U.S. officials, have been of Moroccan descent.
  7. ^ "I.r.a. Sets Off Bomb at Belgian Concert". August 29, 1979 – via NYTimes.com.
  8. ^ Terrorist Group Profiles. DIANE Publishing. July 25, 1990. ISBN 9781568068640 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Alexander, Yonah; Myers, Kenneth (April 17, 2015). Terrorism in Europe (RLE: Terrorism & Insurgency). Routledge. ISBN 9781317449331 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ a b "Jewish youth dies in blast of grenade". The Globe and Mail. 28 July 1980. ProQuest 386914648.
  11. ^ "Palestinian guerrillas claim synagogue bombing". UPI. 21 October 1981.
  12. ^ "CCC bombings". Brussels Remembers.
  13. ^ Brisard, Jean-Charles (10 November 2016). "The Islamic State's External Operations and the French-Belgian Nexus". Combating Terrorism Center Sentinel. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  14. ^ "Abdelhamid Abaaoud, l'instigateur présumé des attentats tué à Saint-Denis" [Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged instigator of the attacks killed at Saint-Denis]. Le Monde. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  15. ^ Lasoen, Kenneth (2017). "Indications and warning in Belgium. Brussels is not Delphi". Journal of Strategic Studies. 40 (7): 927–962. doi:10.1080/01402390.2017.1288111.
  16. ^ "Another bomb found in Brussels after attacks kill at least 34; Islamic State claims responsibility". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  17. ^ "Policières attaquées en Belgique: six interpellations". AFP. 30 November 2016. ProQuest 1844558637.
  18. ^ Samuel, Henry (5 October 2016). "Two policemen injured in Brussels stabbing in suspected terror attack". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  19. ^ Dewan, Angela; Isaac, Lindsay (5 October 2016). "Two Brussels police officers stabbed in terror attack, prosecutor says". CNN. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Suspects face terrorism charges after raids in Belgium". DW. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Brüssel: Verdächtiger nach Explosion in Brüsseler Bahnhof "neutralisiert"". Die Zeit (in German). 2017-06-20. ISSN 0044-2070. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  22. ^ Lasoen, Kenneth (2019). "War of Nerves. The Domestic Terror Threat and the Belgian Army". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 42 (11): 953–971. doi:10.1080/1057610X.2018.1431270.
  23. ^ Crisp, James (May 29, 2018). "Belgium shooting: 'Radicalised' prisoner on day release kills two female police officers in Liege" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  24. ^ "Belgian Brabant killers, new information". October 21, 2017.