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Tenir bon. English translation: ‘hang in there’, or ‘remain steadfast’. I have nothing original to say about the Islamic State’s latest outrage except to express horror and the sentiment that people need to remain steadfast and not succumb to fear. And, obviously, hope that European states adopt effective strategies to smash the clandestine infrastructure of the Islamic State and kindred terrorist organizations. On this, I read one interesting article today, “What to do about Brussels” by freelance journalist Joshua Hersh in TNR. The lede: “Going to war won’t solve Europe’s homegrown terrorism problem.” See also the piece linked to in the article that the author published in BuzzFeed in December.
UPDATE: Historian and Morocco/Maghreb specialist Pierre Vermeren, who teaches at Université Paris 1, has had several illuminating op-eds and interviews of late on the Rifians—the Berbers of Morocco’s Rif region, who predominate in the North African Muslim immigrant population in Belgium (as well as the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region in France and the Netherlands)—Rifians being the ethnic group of most of the terrorists implicated in the Paris and Brussels attacks: “Arrestation de Salah Abdeslam: Comment Molenbeek est devenu un État dans l’État,” in Le Figaro (March 18th, originally published in November 2015); “Pierre Vermeren: ‘La Belgique, foyer djihadiste et plaque tournante de la drogue’,” in Le Figaro (March 22nd); and “‘La Belgique est devenue un trou noir sécuritaire’,” in Le Monde (March 23rd).
2nd UPDATE: François Heisbourg, who chairs the council of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, has a typically smart commentary in Le Huffington Post (March 22nd), “Attentats de Paris-Bruxelles: Parler d’armée et de guerre concernant Daech, c’est se tromper de combat.”
3rd UPDATE: Malise Ruthven has an excellent review essay of three excellent-looking books in the April 7th issue of the NYRB, “Inside Obedient Islamic Minds.” The piece is in the comments thread below for those who can’t get behind the wall.
4th UPDATE: The Guardian’s Jason Burke says (March 23rd) that “It is no surprise siblings with past crimes carried out attacks on Brussels.” The lede: “The el-Bakraoui brothers highlight the links between terrorism and criminal records, and the strength of family in Islamic militancy.”
5th UPDATE: The Guardian’s Martin Chulov has an article (March 25th) on “How Isis laid out its plans to export chaos to Europe.” The lede: “Before the Paris attacks, leaders of the terror group gathered to hear its new strategy: spreading fear through European capitals.” And here’s a piece from the FT dated last November 19th on “Belgium’s arms bazaar.” The lede: “Black market in guns has made the country an operational centre for jihadis, but officials are cracking down.” Thankfully the NRA does not have a lobby in Brussels.
6th UPDATE: Joost Hilterman of the International Crisis Group has an absolutely must-read interview in the NYR Daily (March 24th) with Belgian terrorism researcher Didier Leroy, “Why Belgium?” This is one of the best analyses I’ve come across on the subject at hand.
7th UPDATE: Farhad Khosrokhavar of the EHESS in Paris, who knows the subject better than just about anyone, has a most important op-ed in Le Monde (March 25th), “Les profils pluriels du djihadisme européen.”
8th UPDATE: Washington Post foreign affairs writer Ishaan Tharoor has a piece (March 23rd) on “The Saudi origins of Belgium’s Islamist threat.”
9th UPDATE: The sharp, insightful British writer Kenan Malik has a sharp, insightful op-ed in the NYT (March 30th) on “The little we know about the jihadists in our midst.” The lede: “The more we learn about homegrown terrorism, the more our official explanations look like fiction.”
10th UPDATE: Julia Lynch, who teaches political science at the University of Pennsylvania, has an informative post in WaPo’s Monkey Cage blog (April 5th) on “why so many of Europe’s terrorist attacks come through this one Brussels neighborhood,” the neighborhood, of course, being Molenbeek.
11th UPDATE: The NYT has a lengthy article (April 11th) on “A Brussels mentor who taught ‘gangster Islam’ to the young and angry,” by reporters Andrew Higgins and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura.