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tv   Talk to Al Jazeera  Al Jazeera  March 22, 2016 4:30am-5:01am EDT

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about a quarter have returned to their home countries, where you talk about many countries. about a quarter of the foreign fighters have returned to their home countries. france and belgium have a significant number of foreign fighters. you're looking at about the quarter that came back, that's a big problem. more so because they don't know who those fighters are necessarily let me update you with news coming from the belgian broadcaster. they are citing hospital sources saying up to ten people are dead and 30 have been wounded after these explosions. that's coming from the belgian broadcaster rtbf. if you could speculate, and i know it's still early days and all we've seen are massive plumes, what do you think could have been used in such an
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attack? something that could have been taken into a high secured place like an airport? >> it could have been home-made explosives, ammonium my trait, but in all-- nitrate, but in all likelihood, some commercially produced explosive. it could be in luggage, backpack and left there you were talking about the concern of the number of fighters in places like france and belgium. why is belgium, in particular, such a breeding ground? >> i think what you see in belgium is it there this disenfranchisement. this is throughout europe. to an extent you see this in the u.s., not so much in davenlt there's that feeling of
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disenfranchiseme disenfranchisement, low employment, lack of opportunity in the future as far as jobs or education. there's frustration there. when you have an organization like the islamic state that they have mastered the use of social media for propaganda purposes, to have somebody disenfran kised it is not a step to become radicalized, whether foreign fighters in iraq and syria or elsewhere or they are radicaliseed and they stay in belgium. this has been a problem we know that the security forces are getting people away from the airport, making sure that nobody gets to the airport. from an investigation point of view what they immediately start to focus on right now? >> looking at the video cam grows going in and out of the airport. that's the first thing.
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there is going to be some part of a packaging, whether a suitcase, backpack will be left. it is going back and look at those videotapes and see if they can identify the individuals that brought those carriers in that had the explosive device. if they had tag metres near the airport, they will follow that up. they will get phone nourms, email address let's just have a quick recap of what we know so far. there has been a possible explosion on the metro at a station. local media is saying the subway has been closed. there are reports that people were leaving the station with blood on their faces. earlier two explosions went off
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at the airport in brussels. one went off inside the departure area and one exploktd outside the terminal building. one person has been confirmed dead and several others injured. some reports suggest a growing death toll. the belgian prime minister has been reacting to news of the bomb explosion. he says: talking of the security lock down, it's raised to the highest level yet. what does that mean as far as being able to operate from a security point of view and where does it leave the city
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>> from the terrorist cell perspective, they've done their attack. they're going to lay low, but there could be other attacks. remember four months ago it did not happen simultaneously. it was over an hour and a half period. there could be other planned attacks that are about to occur do you think paris has set up a working model of attacks now, that kind of setting one bomb off here, one off there, the most of the soft targets. is that going to be duplicated, do you think? >> i think so. this is nothing new. when these simultaneously attacks has been going on for years. i think what you saw in paris that was different.
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the number of sites were hit and the different methods of attack, suicide vest, drive-buy shootings, walk down the streets and firing at people in shops. there was a number of different methods that were used is that making it easier to hide? >> no. it's easier to do. if you don't have enough ieds, you have people that get weapons so it gives you another means of attack we're going to be going to our correspondent james bays who is in geneva. james, what are you hearing about this? i should imagine because of the meeting there and who is there, the meeting on syria, that this is going to be watched very closely. >> reporter: yes. i don't think it is going to affect the negotiations, but people will be talking about in attack not just here but across europe, the rever registrations from what has happened in the
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last couple of hours at brussels brussels airport and another attack close to the heart of the e.u. institutions in the center of brussels. the word here is mainly about what the feature of syria ask and the governance of syria, but it is worth pointing out that the one thing the syrian government want to talk about and in some ways, although everyone will denounce these attacks, it helps them in their argument, they say we should talk about the future governance of syria but we should first talk about fighting terrorism, and we listen to a long speech in the last 24 hours from rt syrian chief negotiate yosh, making the point about people committing criminal acts you use the word terrorism. when it happens in syria, you call them opposition. i think in some ways he may well
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use this in the coming days to again make that point. i think you're going to see condemnation here at these talks from both sides of the attacks that have taken place in brussels. what is not clear ask whether there is a direct link to islamic state and syria please sta with us. i want to bring in an eyewitness in central brussels. good to have you with us. i believe you were at one of the metro stations. what did you stee? >> that's right. no. i was at the me tro station, which is the one before. as i was sitting the metro there was a loud muffled thud coming from upstairs. there was a lot of dust raised and people started panicking and leaving the metro station very quickly. when they come up to the ground level, there were a lot of soldiers there helping the evacuation process.
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there was a lot of confusion. this was the explosion that took place at the next metro station down i should imagine that's a pretty busy station particularly this time of the morning? >> yemen. at this time of the morning, yes. it was packed. we had to wait in the metro station for a while before it left. so it was completely full. that was a very busy time we're looking at a picture which i believe is coming in near there. we can see smoke rising. we see very heavy traffic, people on the street. i should imagine it was praet frightening. the fact that security has been lifted into the highest level yet. how much fear or has there been fear consideration what has been happening in the country and the links to those living there to the attacks in paris?
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>> it depends. i haven't been living in fear despite going to different scenarios and different situations here. everybody has their own interpretation of events. what is probably the most jarring is the fact that people don't know what's going on, and that was evident this morning in the metro station there. there was a lot of confusion. some people were frozen. it's hard to know the security there, is there an ever present security force on the train stations considering the imminent threats or nothing at all some >> there is a strong security presence. it is always notable. it twras surprising tore me tom see that there were numerous soldiers there, a vehicle parked outside. all the station hz been cleared
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off. the main street that runs down here, it is packed full of people. everybody is out of the metro station. there is a security presence and they are effectively of what they're doing, i guess if you could speculate, how big was the force of the explosion and did the seem that it was an explosion? >> admittedly, no, it didn't. i was at the station away. it was more as if construction was going on all the time here. it could be any number of bangs or something that you can't put it down to. it was clear that it caused some consternation. there was a bang heard. it was a station away, so it wasn't discernible the extent of the explosion
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you were telling me that you were not one of those who live in fear because of what has been happening. will what you have seen and heard and experienced today change that in any way? will it change the way you live now? >> no. they are supposed to make you live in fear, these attacks, but i refuse to thank you for that. your experience of the explosion, you were one station away from the station. there we're looking at pictures coming from there. you can see the traffic. it was telling us that everybody has been evacuated from the stations and the surrounding areas and many people are in shock. as you can imagine. going back to james bays. he is live in geneva. i believe that the british and swedish representatives have
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been talking. what have they been saying? >> reporter: yes. we're getting responses to what has happened on twitter. the very first responses from european leaders. david cameron tweeted, i'm shocked and concerned about the events in brussels. we doll everything we can to help. also the swedish prime minister saying this is an attack on democratic europe because where these attacks have taken place in the main airport and in the center of brussels in the european quarter of brussels, this is not just the capital will belgian, it is the capital of the e.u. that european quarter, where the union is based and departments and the missions, effectively the embassies of the vary countries to the european union is based. equipments an attack on the e.u. and the international community because there really are only three places in the world where
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there are this same gathering of international civil servants. one of them is brussels, one in gen eve appear and one in the u.n. in new york. i think these targets symbolically chosen because malbeek metro station in brussels is one that serves that european quarter. there's one called shoeman and malbeek, serving that part of brussels. many people getting off at the train at those stations will be e.u. diplomats, e.u. officials going to work. that has been chosen i think by the attackers on this occasion you used to live there. you know many of these stations. you know the airport. it must be pretty shocking knowing the country as you do and the security awareness concerns at the moment. that's something like this could happen or does it make sense?
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>> reporter: well. yes. it is shocking and it is certainly an area where there is a great deal of security. they are used to dealing with heads of state world leaders, european leaders, they have them there in the last couple of days of brussels. the security ask tight and they know how to deal with security. i was actually living in belgium at the time of 911 and watched the ramp up of security that happened at that time at brussels airport. i think it's worth remarking on, though, the fact that when you arrive at nearly every european airport, and it's true in the u.s. as well, you're not searched and your bag age is not searched until you've come with your passport, identified yourself, put the counter ready to go through, then you are searched when you go air side. this happened before any security checks. there are only a few airports that i've travelled to in the world where they actually check you before you get into the
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airport. for example, in testimony aviv-- testimony aviv you were tel avis. also in baghdad because of the attacks that took place in the baghdad international airport. there, again, sits 2003 since the americans took over the security there, the security provisions, the americans put in place still enforce with the iraqi government and you are checked as you enter the airport. that's something that doesn't happen in many countries around the world, in many airports around the world. i think this attack in a departure lounge, and we think it was the american airlines counter that was targeted, i think is going to prompt a review of security. i'm sure they will be discussing it here in geneva where the international air travel
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association is based so many links between the countries. let's leave it there for the moment. just to let you know what the state broadcaster has said that it was a suicide bomber behind the attack in the airport. we are hearing of two explosions in the airport, but the state broadcaster is saying that it was a suicide mission. here are some pictures of the metro coming to us in the last couple of minutes or so. we know that an explosion has happened at the malbeek station. a highly secure station, as james was saying. this is in the heart of the city. very close to many e.u. institutions there, the mobee station, people running away and one of the witnesses close by earlier telling us how people were evacuated very quickly from
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the stations after this rather loud explosion was heard. we don't know at what stage in anybody has been hurt. another witness was talking about seeing blood on people's faces. we don't know about the injuries there or hopefully no fatalities. we have a former f.b.i. agent with us. we two explosions at the airport, possibly one was on the suicide mission. we see this right in the heart of the city. james bays was saying it's extraordinary considering how many important people go past a station like that how difficult is it to man, to police a station like that? >> there are police there, but they're looking for suspicious activity. in some cases you may have explosive k9 there that can
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smell the explosives. if they're not there and you're not looking suspicious, you can get by. when these attacks are planned and i think what happened today in brussels was definitely planned. when they're planned, the sales in their preplanning operation will first identify the best targets. if a tarring is hard there is a lot of security there. they probably won't attack it. they want to be successful so they will go tore an easy target. public transport is an easy target. there is no checks for the people going in and out. that's an open part of the airport. same thing in the subway station what ask the game plan? what do they want to achieve? -- is the game plan some sna >> remain relevant. i think what you're saying with the islamic state is as they're
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defeated in the ground and they lose more and more territory and take the casualties with their insurgency and that is happening, they're going to result to more terror rift attacks to remain relevant a catch 22. >> yes. you start to lose on the ground, you resort to more terrorist attacks and in this case ou outside of the. europe is a final place. there are over 4,000 fighters who have been back between iraq and syria. u.k. and france have 1700 each, germany with almost 1800. they make up the bulk of the european foreign fighter network extraordinary numbers. going to go to bring in of former pilot who ask going to tell us about security there.
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terry tozer, a retired airline pilot. can you give us a sense of what you think happened, what's gone down at this airport? >> well, not really. i'm, obviously, a long way from there. but it would be to evacuate the terminal, which is probably what is going on and to gather people in all of the common safety violence that have been predetermined. i think the biggest question to be answered is whether her does t the-- where does it lie this must prompt a major security review, the fact that people can take their bags so close to so many people before being screened.
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>> indeed. i'm sure the terrorists are well aware of that. if you think of the restrictions of the difficulties that have been imposed ever since the current restrictions, can you imagine a situation you would have to be screened before you can go into the terminal building. it with create a nightmare scenario the challenge being that there seems to be new security issues, if a plane is not bleeg blown out of the sky or something, tacking the pilot, people getting on to planes. very hard to keep abreast of all these fast-moving developments. >> yes, indeed. i think it is impossible. it seems to me that the only rult to a solution is intelligence-led activity because simply putting up barriers is not a practical solution tell me about the challenges
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of evacuating people in a situation like this. >> the number of people potentially in an airport, the security staff will have a drill, there will be procedures. if you get everybody out into the pedestrian areas and the car parks and you know there isn't a bottom out there as well. so it's a pretty difficult situation, but where do you suggest that everybody goes and stands in order to be safe. i think we've heard some of this on the media this morning, but a certain level of confusion, dough we keep them inside the main term mall building. it's a tough one because nobody knows where these guys are or what they've done so often you've seen one attack and people have been waiting and then a second bomb. i want to update you on the
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figures from the belgian broadcaster vrt. they're saying that 13 people are dead, 35 severely injured after the brussels explosions. neave barker is at the airport now. this is quite a dramatic increase. >> reporter: it is a significant and worrying increase. let me explain what i've seeing here. there are still large numbers of people being evacuated from the main terminal buildings, which is a mixture of airport staff. there are some cabin crew along with ordinary travellers who are looking very confused and be will directlied to seem dozen and dozens of police cars the main objective for the police right now is to make sure that this area is cordoned off and it's clear for the investigations to go on.
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what we have heard from eyewitnesses who are at the site and scene of two explosions is that a large number of people have been seriously injured and some killed, but at least two blasts happened, one demands one outside the departure area. it exploded close to the american airline desk where a large number of people in in arrived a suicide bomber has been responsible for this, we don't know if the - how many explosions are linked to the suicide bomber, i should imagine just one. what are you hearing about that and what are you hearing about people faes injuries and what explosions were? >> again, we're basing our knowledge on eyewitness statements, both on social media
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and in the belgian media. long with some initial commentary from intelligence analysts kwhov been looking at the scene of the blasts here at the airport. this is a very, very fourful explosion powerful enough to throw people into the air. the roof and the entire facade of the departure terminal have been largely destroyed. it looks very much like a very well thought out calculated couple of explosions and now also very worrying news from central brussels to the last few seconds we're hearing of three distinct explosions at the metro station. as we heard earlier, they're close to the european institutions.
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a very symbolic act. apparently designed to cause as much harm and damage and loss of life as possible we believe that an emergency cabinet meeting is happening at this moment. also in the last half an hour or so the threat level was raised to four. that's the highest level. it suggests a ser threat and an imminent threat. talk us through what you know about that. >> reporter: that's right. in the wrak of the paris attacks last november, bell gym increased its security levels to level number 4. a couple of months ago they reduced it to three. of course, belgium and france that is now that they were linked when it comes to the flow of attackers, weapons went the two cities that were linked to
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the killing on 13 november. the authorities sigh what we're seeing here is a series of coordinated explode sigss and questions as to whether or not that was a wise thing to do. regardless of the fact that security levels have been reduced, there was still a very high high-level presence of both armed police, of regular police and armed military who were regularly seen in the city on patrol and most certainly here at the airport and train stations. it is hugely concerning for the businessmen themselves. they're going to be questioning rr is safe, if wanting to take a train to work on a monday morning. they see the possibility of
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these threats despite the length of the authorities. what we're likely to see in the coming hours, of course, is the emergency services doing their work, quick responses fro the government as they will increase their heightened state of letter to level 4 and a kwoord effort to try and ensure that no further attacks napped here in the belgium capital you were talking a little bit earlier on about the links between belgium and france, the relationship that the attackers had who conducted the paris attacks in november and the security concerns and security failings. let's bring in jacky rowland. she is joining us live from paris. we know there have been three explosions, two at the airport, one in the station at the heart of the city. do you think that this is possibly going to lead to a
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security clamp down in france? are there concerns that we might see another attack there? >> reporter: they're already under a state of emergency with security levels at the very highest level possible. there's nowhere else for them to go. there will be a high-level meeting where francois hollande called in his interior minister, other security officials to assess what's going on in belgium and to figure out some responses necessary. as i said, when you're already under a state of emergency and you already have thousands of troops who might be on assignment overseas actually deployed on the streets of the cities, all over france, it's difficult to see where you can