Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Brussels attacks follow arrest of Paris suspect by only a few days.

My own cell phone pinged a few times early this morning, before I checked, and quickly learned what had happened in Brussels.  The three explosions, in at least two areas, appear to have been suicide bombings , but that is not certain yet.

The media has been asked by authorities in Belgium (and France, the Netherlands, and the UK) not to publish details about the police suspect investigations going on in Brussels.  NBC does report very recent progress in a residential investigation.   In most cases, only the established press is likely to learn any of these details anyway.  But sometimes ordinary people learn of things by happenstance, so if anything like that were to show up in my own social media feeds, I would honor it.   Everyone I know in that part of the world is OK and has checked in on social media.

The Wall Street Journal is already discussing the reply of the presidential candidates.  As I reported late last night, Ted Cruz made an unusually provocative remark about WMD to Wolf Blitzer last night. Just a few hours, it turns out, before these attacks.  The broad brushed combative tone of Donald Trump’s remarks is not the appropriate response.  Oddly, Trump has suggested that he might reduce the US commitment to NATO.

Peter Bergen's analysis of the forensics on CNN.is here,
There are disturbing reports of evacuation of a nuclear power plant in Belgium.  CBS followed this story with a detailed account by Tucker Reals, indicating that Belgian authorities feared kidnapping of a nuclear plant officer to try to get access to materials to make a dirty bomb. The story sounds bizarre, like a Dateline or 48 Hours mystery. In the US, Taylor Wilson, Peter Thiel and others have proposed that the power grids could be make safer by building and using small backup underground fission reactors with new safety features.  All of this fits into Ted Cruz's remarks about a different WMD Tuesday night when talking to Wolf Blitzer, if someone has the imagination to connect the dots -- and that needs to be someone other than a fiction or movie screenplay writer.

There is material coming out in the media about "mother of Satan" explosives (acetone peroxides), easily purchased raw materials but difficult for "amateurs" to handle without blowing themselves up in the lab; highly unstable (reducing agent) chemicals needing oxygen.

In fact, ABC News reported in the evening of March 24 on apparent "spying" on a nuclear power plant scientist in Belgium, and the New York Times had reported on this matter as early as Feb. 18, with little notice from most of the media or the candidates, here (Milan Schreuer and Alissa Rubin).  And Foreign Policy has a blunt story on Feb 29 by Patrick Malone and Jeffrey Smith, "The Islamic State's plot to build a dirty bomb", here. It was not mentioned in major news broadcasts.

This story will evolve quickly.

Wikipedia attribution link for Brussels picture by Ssolbergj,

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