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tv   News  Al Jazeera  March 22, 2016 9:00am-10:01am EDT

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minister was hurt in the blast. the death is going to be a multi-national contingent of victims. the stations are very close together. they are very close to the european commission buildings. i'm usually at metro myself going to summits, to the hotel from the summit building. i know at that time time of day, it is packed and the i think the attackers clearly knew about that. welcome to the news hour and our rolling coverage of the brussels attacks this morning. coming up in the next 60 minutes, dozens killed in those attacks in brussels.
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coordinated attacks there, these are pictures from the airport. plus an explosion on the metro, at maelbeek station after two blasts at zaventem airport. belgium, of course on maximum security alert, surveillance also stepped up controls europe. questions being raised about what these attacks could mean for airport security around the world. >> in brussels, three explosions have hit the belgian capital. the attacks have heightened security levels across europe. at least 26 people have been killed and almost 100 people have been wounded in the blasts. two explosions went off at the
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zaventem airport at 8:00 a.m. local time. it's believed they were a suicide attack. now an hour later, there was another explosion at maelbeek station at the metro underground network. want capital is on lockdown and belgium has its threat level to four, that's the highest. we've got neve barker at the airport. he's been there all morning. there is an investigation underway. the last you were telling us from viewers joining us that there are reports at least of weapons being found inside. >> yes, that's right. we're hearing that from local media, from the belgar news agency. they are quoting sources who have been actually into the departure terminal itself. they say that weapons were discovered there. we can't independently verify that. we are still waiting for official confirmation from the police about that indeed, before
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making that call or assessment. the indication is that there is crucial evidence inside the departure hall that the authorities will now be looking to gather in order to help them establish who carried out these attacks, and importantly to avoid any further attacks happening in the coming hours and in the coming days. here's how the morning panned out here at zaventem airport. >> this video was taken just a few moments after the explosions that brussels zaventem airport. i've witnesses say they felt the blast. the blast took place just after 7g.m.t. with another just under an hour later on a tunnel between metro stations in the city. belgium had been on high alert since the arrest in brussels of saleh abdeslam, a key suspect in
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the terrorist attacks. >> i have no information to give. we're working in terms of priority to provide support to the injured, evacuate, deal with the injured and to ensure security in particularly sensitive areas. there have been several explosions. there are people on the run who have escaped. we have no information as yet. >> across europe, governments are now having crisis meetings. david cameron, the prime convening a high security meeting in london. in amman, jordan, european union foreign policies chief said the e.u. and middle east needed to unit in moments of tragedy like this. >> europe and its capital are suffering the same pain that this region has known and known every single day, being it in syria, being it elsewhere. we are still waiting for more precise news on the dynamics of the attacks in brussels.
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>> the french say they are taking action to prevent further attacks. the prime minister and the president have reminded during the meeting the determination of france to fight terrorism and that's what we've been doing for some months through the strengthening of the police and the intelligence services and it's what we're doing through the rigorous application of the rules of law. the interior minister has raised the threat level in the country to the highest and rail services in and to the city of all been canceled. >> you've been there a number of hours. when people were coming out, the initial chaos had calmed down a little bit and people were calmly getting on to coaches, we saw those pictures, you were able to talk to some of them. tell us what they told you.
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>> that's right. well initially when we arrived here, it was something of a chaotic scene, the police trying to establish a safe zone to make sure those inside the airport were able to get out and board buses. many people have now been taken to a sports hall in the town of does a convenient tell to my le. one has described an extremely chaotic scene on the inside, sake the blast was powerful enough to throw people into the air, that there were many dead and injured on the floor that he personally witnessed. some of those people had been given c.p.r. and immediate emergency treatment by specialists on the ground. after that, he together with a group of others barricaded himself in an office in the airport. he said for what felt like a very, very long time before
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finally it became apparent that they were able to escape the scene. another staff member that we spoke to earlier on in the morning who is based in the departure hall said the only way he could escape was to crawl inside the conveyer belt mechanism, the luggage conveyer belt mechanism and make his way down through the mechanism to another level before being able to leave the airport. these are the kinds of stories we are hearing in the first hour. i'm sure many, many more will have similar dramatic stories about what happened on the inside. just some more moving information for you and what we're gathering is happening elsewhere in brussels. according to officials and local media, shops are being asked to close, as we know, transport links in the city have largely been suspended on the metro and
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networks like that linking belgium to paris and other cities, a series of course of precautionary measures as their still remains what is perceived to be an imminent threat of further attacks. belgium as we heard there is on its highest state of alert and the last thing they want is to is be unprepared. >> thank you for bringing us the latest scene there as brussels airport. investigators inside investigation underway. our correspondent paul brennan is in the heart of brussels outside the european commission building. paul, that is close, isn't it, to where the metro explosion took place and that metro we now understand is completely evacuated. >> yeah in the last hour, we know now the authorities are now saying that the metro station maelbeek has now been evacuated. it would have been quite some operation. i mean it's taken several hours
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for that announcement to come through, so you can expect the conditions on the ground would have been very difficult indeed, especially when you're talking about numbers of casualties, both dead and injured, 15 dead on that wail way carriage that happened during the rush hour, 55 at the moment injured and at least 10 of them critically injured. a a number of them had as her serious burns. i've seen a number of photographs circulating on social media showing the destruction of that particular railway carriage and it seems very clear to me that it would have been almost impossible for anybody close to the seat that have blast to survive. i mean the damage is extraordinary. the clearance operation has been assisted by a nearby hotel, three doors away, and the hotels with a lobby area that was commandeered as a triage center and tables laid out and authorities being able to treat
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casualties there. at the commission headquarters is a deep sense of shock. dell jump the center of the headquarters of the european administration system. the building over my shoulder, its flags are flying at half mast. we know diplomats were caught up. slovenia has confirmed one of its diplomats were injured in the blast. there's reports that a british citizen was also injured. the proximity of the maelbeek tube station, metro station to these european institution makes it inevitable that there is going to be an international mix among the victims involved. it's clear if is not just a problem, an incident which affects belgium. it's going to affect a large number of countries across europe. >> exactly, the french president was saying earlier this is not an attack that targeted belgium, it targeted the whole of europe.
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>> indeed. very often, you listen to those kind of statements which are made and their more metaphorical. of course we are waiting for statistics of where the victims originated from. the authorities urge the media and social media not to speculate too much and to wait for initial confirmation on information such as that, but it is clear that the mix of those dead and injured as a result of the airport attacks, particularly the metro attack here in the central brussels this morning is going to be of a an international dimension. >> we'll leave it there for the moment. thank you from the heart of brussels nearby where that third attack took place on the metro station. let's return now to the scene of the first two attacks at the airport this morning in
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brussels. these picture show the immediate aftermath around the check-in area at zaventem airport. there you can see smoke and debris everywhere after this one heavy explosion. there were two blasts reported in total. the second one was more powerful with witnesses saying that the impact of the bomb caused windows to smash and shatter. investigations going on their, sifting through that huge amount of debris. the attacks targeting aircraft and airport are not new. aviation officials have introduced new layers of security. gerald tan takes a look at what the bombings in brussels could mean now for travelers. >> most airports worldwide boast some of the tightest security. it wasn't always so. 9/11 was a watershed. after the jet highjackings in 2001, airline passengers were
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banned from carrying knives or sharp objects in luggage. richard reed tried to ignite explosives in his shoes. x-ray screening for footwear was introduced. a plot for liquid explosives, in response, liquid and gels in carry on baggage apply for most flights. in 2009, another transatlantic flight was targeted, attempting to blown it up with a bomb concealed in his underwear. many airports use full body scanners. it stirred a conversation about a loss of privacy for security. >> the best targets will be
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identified and they will look for security and if a target is hard, there's a lot of security there, they're probably not going to attack it. they want to be successful so are going to the he saidst target. public transportation is generally an easy target. >> the blast targeted an airline check-in counter in the area before security screening. some airports around the world already forts people to have their bags scanned before entering terminals. now questions are being asked about what's next for travelers. >> however do we have to go with security? do we have to really have procedures to even get into a check-in desk? you can understand the problems here that this would cause. this could be one step that has to be taken. >> one again that shows how attackers were determined to challenge aviation safety appear to be one step ahead. gerald tan, al jazeera.
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>> joining us now from london is anthony davis, an aviation journalist. good to have you with us. brussels has been on a high level of alert and yet these attacks still managed to take place at the airport. what more could they have done to stop them? >> well, there are being questions being asked at the moment of the procedures for security at european airports. now, let's be clear. america does it slightly differently. they care about who enters the airport car park, for example. who pumps up outside. they have police, they have wardens, and they really do check. i feel that european airports do need to step you are their security. we're talking about just entering the terminal building and brussels airport has one large terminal believe where everything takes place, the train station on the lower ground floor, people are welcome to and a half in and out of that terminal building. before going through security,
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they have 23 million people a year using that airport, so the chance of something like that happening, in this case has been allowed to slip through. >> when do the first checks happen at brussels airport. >> it's similar to other airports where you enter, you might say goodbye to your loved once in the terminal believe before going through security and that does ask questions whether or not friends and family would even be allowed to enter airport terminal buildings if new legislation is passed. i'm sure a report about this time of arrival and departure procedure will be looked into, but you really don't get through security until you've spent a good amount of time. you might have relaxed and eaten and had a drink and, you know, had some beauty therapy or treatment before you even go through security, so the airports like to make main. they like to see their revenue increased and security actually, i think needs to be taken far
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more seriously from the moment we even arrive in the airport. >> you think you would get resistance not only from the airport businesses, but also from travelers. >> people need to take their responsibilities seriously. traveling on an airplane be is a serious business. i appreciate that years ago, it seemed glamorous and it's exciting going on holiday, but the reality is that the world has changed, and middle eastern airports, for example, will scan everybody who enters the airport, check vehicles on arrival at the airport. they don't wait until people are well into the terminal building have had their lunch and decided to go through security. it shouldn't be up to the passenger necessarily to decide when they go through security. it should be up to the airport authorities. >> at what point, i'm trying to get a sense of where do you start with these checks? you don't start inside the building, do they start outside, on the car park, however back do you have to go and can you ever
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stop attacks like these? >> well, with 23 million passengers a year, no. the odds of you stopping this, no. there will be armed police walking the perimeter of the terminal building and of the airport itself. we also have c.c.t.v. heavily involved in policing that area. i think people do feel safer if there is a greater presence and these days, i think people would be happy to be maybe a little more delayed on arrival in their taxi or however they're getting to the airport just to know that the security services are on their side. >> i certainly should expect that in the immediate future, at least. thank you for joining us from london. >> one of the explosions at the airport was reportedly near the check-in counter of american
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airlines. let's join adam fisher, our correspondent in washington d.c. what are you hearing there? >> of course we are expecting some comment from the president, barack obama who is currently in cuba. he is to address the people there within the hour and we're told that at the top of his remarks, he will address the events in brussels. we know that a nobody of american airlines have diverted flights that were heading into brussels on tuesday morning. overnight flights on monday, one went to amsterdam, one has been sent to another airport as yet unnamed. a couple of flights arrived right at the time of the explosions. one was taken to the remote area of the air feel and passengers taken off. the presidential candidate have had their say, ted cruz saying this is proof that radical islam is at war for us. john kasich said it is time for people to work together and donald trump says that the
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attack in brussels is the latest in a series after paris and he says it's a sign of how some cities, including london are going, and he says that really, it is time for america to look at its borders. now on metro systems here in the u.s., there will be increased police presence over the next few hours, and also at airports in new york. this is standard at this time when things like happen, and we will see a number of canine patrols, as well, particularly in the metro in washington, d.c., and in new york, also other metro systems will see increased police presence. from the state department, we had he a statement saying they are in touch with their embassy in drugs sells. secretary of state john kerry has been fully briefed and kept informed and of course the u.s. stands ready to work with the belgian authorities should they go requested. >> our guest earlier alluded to
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the u.s. is already much tighter on its checks in airports, and many european countries, you are saying they are going to tighten it still. >> well, i remember working belfast in the mid 1990 said and at that point, where you arrived in the airport, that is when you went through security. people remember back in northern ireland in the 1990 said, the 1970's and even into the 1960's, there were a number of incidents in what was called the troubles of northern ireland, shootings and bomb explosions and as you arrived in the airport, you had to put your bag through a scanner at that point and then you could go into the terminal building. friends and family sometimes weren't allowed into certain buildings. well in northern ireland, you could, as long as they went through security, too. that may well be something is that is reintroduced in airports around europe, as well. as you say, america did step up its security after 9/11, but there are some who believe that
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it isn't good enough, not strong enough and still puts people at risk. after every incident like this, the security services who offer their plans to scan passengers, how they pros people at the airport and see if there is any obvious gaps, lessons that can be learned and you can be sure over the next days and weeks, the authorities in the united states will be doing that, as well. >> indeed. reporting live from washington, d.c., thanks, alan. let's bring you more now on the reaction from world leaders. we have been looking at this reaction. >> after the shocking horror in brussels, there's been an outpouring of solidarity from nation across the globe. french president francois hollande underlined the need for couldn'ty. >> we are all aware that we are all involved and must deal with the subject but without security, there will be no economic development and we must ensure that all means going into security in france and all of europe. >> world leaders used social media to send messages of
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condolence. the e.u. foreign policy chief commented from jordan. >> it is quite clear that the roots of the pain we are suffering around other region are very much the same, and that we are united in not only suffering our victims, but reacting to this act and preventing radicalization and violence together. >> they are dragic events, terrorist explosions. russia is the headquarter of the e.u. so we have been following the events around the clock of these criminal terrorist acts.
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>> russian president vladimir putin condemned the attacks saying the fight against this evil requires the most international interaction. turkeys been suffering from recent attacks and its prime minister also called for unity. >> today, here again, i invite human kind to act together against every kind of terrorism. the p.k.k., daish, d.h.k.c.p., every five terrorism. >> more messages of condemnation have been sent from the president of the european council and government leaders in afghanistan, latvia, india and pakistan, among others. al jazeera. let's get more now from barnaby phillips in london and omar saleh standing by on the border between syria and turkey.
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>> david cameron has spoken a short time ago, chairing a meeting of cobra where he sits down with security and defense chiefs. he said this was an appalling terrorist attack, savage attack, he called it, and he said it was an attack that could have happened in any european country. the threat level, which is the level calibrated by the authorities judging on what intelligence they are getting here in the u.k. is at severe. it's been at that level since august of 2014. it means there are for example plenty of armed policemen at british airports, at railway stations, but it's not at imminent, the highest level, so although it is certainly a great deal of concern, the british will also feel perhaps privately that they do have one or two advantage in the short term over
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countries like belgium and france, namely of course that this is an island, there are less firearms, the police here believe they have a better collaboration with their own intelligence services. you would have thought it was obvious that they would be collaborating, but we understand this has been a problem in belgium in the past and the police feel they are getting good tipoffs from communities who are worried, suspicious about somebody in friend, a neighbor, a relative who they believe have become radicalized. what gives the british police concern at the same time, they are seeing this time and time again, the speed with which young people in this country just as in france and in belgium can become radicalized and can start the plan to wreak positive sock, spread fear on the streets of their own city. this country is certainly not in vulnerable from future attacks. >> you talked the transport
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situations, the security put in place in britain. >> the french authorities have deployed 1600 extra security personnel at key airports, key railway stations, in northern paris where the euro star train comes in was briefly evacuated. it is running fine now. the trains from brussels to paris and northwest france have been stopped. >> ok, barnaby phillips bringing us the latest on the situation in england and the u.k. thanks, barnaby. we don't nope at this point who these attackers were, whether or not they were linked to isil, whether or not they were even linked to syria, but it is an area that will be investigated and you're on the border between syria and turkey and that of
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course has been a very active transit point for people from syria to get into the rest of europe. yes, well be a that notion has been rejected from the turkish government recently. probably that was the accusation or that was the case at the start of the crisis in syria in 2011. turkey was accused by countries who are backing president bashar al assad's regime and by the internal opposition that the turkish government was turning a blind eye into the influx of foreign fighters going to fight in syria. however over the last year or so, turkey changed that attitude completely and the turkish state is actually fighting isil for a simple reason because turkish government will tell you is that
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because isil has carried out a number of suicide attacks and bombings since july last year. in fact, only on saturday, the heart of istanbul was hit by a suicide bomber from isil, but the big point here is that coming from the western intelligence, when you have, for example, the former spy chief in britain late 2015 estimating that about 30,000 fighters, fortune fighters are fighting in syria and iraq, and according to other estimates by the euro poll saying there are at least 5,000 foreign fighters who fought in syria went back inside europe and at the moment, so this is the biggest fear here for people not only in turkey, but also in europe that those fortune fight errs actually made it back into europe and those fighters are linked in a way or another to al-qaeda or even the more
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radical group, islamic state of iraq and the levant. >> of course turkey is no stranger to these attacks, just suffered its own attack in istanbul. what have we been hearing from the prime minister? >> the turkish prime minister is speaking at a gathering in the capital ankara. he did say that turkey expresses solidarity and condolences to the belgian government and to the belgian people. he also said that global terrorism has shown its face once again. now, also, turkey or the prime that in remark is also trying to make or tell the world there is connections between what happened in istanbul on saturday, what happened in
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ankara before that, suicide attacks and bombings and also the recent attack on saturday, and also with what happened in brussels are somehow connected, and that global terrorism is not targeting turkey on its own, but targeting other countries, including europe and has given an example of what happened in brussels, as well. >> bringing us reaction from turkey, thanks very much, omar. >> if you're just joining us, let's bring you up to speed with mates happening today. in brussels, three explosions hit the capital. as a result. security levels of increased across europe. belgiums prosecutor said the blast at zaventem airport was a suicide attack, two explosions went off there. there's been one explosion at the maelbeek station at the underground network. the death toll currently stands
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at least 31 people killed with many more of 81 injured. the health minister saying many of those deaths were at maelbeek station. the threat level is raised to level four, the highest level. people have been told to say where they are. neighboring countries and the european commission in brussels have stepped up security. france's interior minister said 1600 extra police officers have been deployed to the french borders. let's talk to our correspondent in brussels at the airport. last time we spoke, he said that weapons had been found in the terminal. >> that's what we're hearing through the belgar news agency,
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who were quoting sources that have been able to see inside the departure lounge. according to credible sources is how they describe them, weapons, i'm not sure what kind of weapons have been found inside that departure hall. we are waiting for official confirmation from police or from other scenor officials. we can't independently verify that ourselves, but looks at if something may have been found at the scene of these twin blasts. in the last half hour, 40 minutes or so, we also saw the arrival of a fleet of hearses, the dead being carried to various motion and hospitals in the area. of course, the grim process of identifying the dead will now begin. most of the injured have been taken to nearby hospitals and over the course of the morning, over a period of several hours, thousands of people were
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evacuated from the airport. they are now being housed in a nearby sports hall in the town of zaventem, very, very close to my left where they are being interviewed by police and being cared for, many of them in a state of shock. >> the airport of course is closed. give us an idea of the kind of traffic you have going in and out, the number which flights that we would normally be seeing going inside the airport and where they're going now. >> brussels of course is a hugely busy airport and 8:00 in the morning, that's when transatlantic flights start to arrive. that's where another long haul flights depart. one of the blasts may have happened very close to the american airlines check in desk or at least ticket desk. we don't know quite which one at this current stage. we gather that there may have been large numbers of people in that particular part of the departure hall at the time. of course, belgium is at the
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heart of european politics. it is at the crossroads of europe. this attack, because it has of course now been confirmed by the belgian authorities as being at least one suicide attack with two blasts strikes a symbolic blow at the heart of europe at a time when the belgian authorities had hoped that they had achieved something significant with the arrest of saleh abdeslam on friday, but his arrest have given officials new information, new leads that they were act it is upon and on sunday, the belgian and french prosecutors said that they were aware of the possibility of imminent threat, imminent attacks. they wanted to do everything possible to avert them and then of course, this has happened. >> of course, they'll be going back to abdeslam and interrogating him even more closely trying to find out anymore information that he might have about the attacks today. >> we imagine that that is going
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to be the case. saleh abdeslam is being held in the top security prison near bruge. information has been slowly filtering out about that initial interrogation process much to the annoyance of the man hired to defend him, who feels the case is being somewhat prejudiced now that the information is out in the public domain. police say that intelligence gathered from saleh abdeslam suggest that he had access to weapons, that he knew of other people in the brussels and belgium, the country as a whole and would be prepared to carry out attacks. we know also that police had asked for the public's help in the location of a 24-year-old who was wanted in connection with the paris attacks last year. according to the authorities, d.n.a. evidence had been collected at two properties, close to brussels and also in explosives found at the paris
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attacks, a place last november, so a manhunt was underway, the police knew that that the potential for attacks was eminent. what i think nobody could really predict is that something like this on this kind of scale would ham so quickly in the days of the arrests between that high profile figure and now. >> thanks very much. >> since the paris attacks in november, belgium has been on high alert. 130 people were killed in november. attackers armed with rifles and explosives attacked in six locations across the french capital. french and belgian police believe those attacks which isil took responsibility for were planned in brussels. a number of raised have been conducted arresting people suspected to be involved.
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last week they captured a key suspect, saleh abdeslam in the brussels suburb of maelbeek. >> let's get more now from our analyst in the studio. when be a sla -- abdeslam was arrested, it was said to be a blow. it turns out it wasn't that much of a blow. >> it could have been in terms of getting their hands on a mastermind of a major operation, but also, it means it had residue to it, which means that whoever are his co-conspirators decided to carry the attacks before they themselves get caught because abdeslam was caught and probably would have coughed up, you know, some stuff
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about whoever has been working on and so on and so forth. you know, when we talk about it throughout the day and so on, we start digesting first of all the horror that we've been seeing from istanbul to brussels and from paris to london and so on and so forth, but more importantly, the first instincts, right, the first instincts is as we've been hearing earlier is ok, let's get more security, more security. ok, let's get the parameters even to the parking lot. what's next? are we going to put more security in shopping malls and every metro station, every bus station? that's exactly what terrorists want. they want to turn open society into a garrison state. that doesn't mean security apparatuses don't need to take measures, but the fact is that today, everyone goes through airports in europe, gets their hands up in the air, take their
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shoes off but that's not deterring the kinds of attacks we are seeing today. they are going to put security checks outside, it's going to happen somewhere else. they must think about long term repercussion. >> in other cases, people carrying out these attacks, people who are going to syria
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and coming back and carrying out these attacks on their own home soil. these are born bread european people. >> right. >> would you do you think so many people have gone specifically from belgium to syria, the highest number in europe. >> it's particularly about the psychology of those social issues. we've had radicalization over the web, through new media. it is the kind of thing that allows in tornadi in doctrinatie place. we've seen attacks in san bernardino where those people did not travel back and forth or did a long time ago. the one in the american base, the american military base, that certainly was indoctrinated through the web. i think we've seen more and more people indoctrinated without making the geographic or the
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transnational journey. really, there has to be a clear understanding of the kind of alienation and peripheryization of what we've seen in europe. june the death toll in the metro station has gone up to 20. let's go to our correspondent in brussels. it's hard to overstate the significance of where this attack on the metro took place. >> it's impossible, frankly. the attacker or attackers have struck at the heart of the european union administration here in central brussels. the building over my shoulder is the headquarter of the european commission. we have diplomats in brussels
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from all over europe and further afield. the number of victims has now been advised upwards as a result of an announcement by the mayor of brussels who has made the following announcement, basically bare figures, 20 people have now been killed, 106 people are now known to have been injured in that metro explosion in the rush hour this morning here in brussels. of those 106 injured, 17 are currently critically ill and 23 of them classified as seriously wounded. you can see there is a potential for that figure of fatalities to rise further. the international aspect of this as we spoke about a little earlier is clear. the slovenia foreign ministry confirmed one of its diplomats was injured in that blast on the metro train. a british citizen is also believed to have been caught up in the blast. no details on a the foreign ministry there. the fact that the metro bomb went off in the heart of the
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diplomatic area means i think it is inevitable that there are going to be more victims from our countries than belgium that are caught up in this. this is not just a belgium issue or incident. this is an international incident now. >> ok, paul, thanks very much for bringing us the latest there, scene downtown brussels. job the difference between going from level three to four isn't that great. want difference is, i mean level three mines it's hardly likely. the u.k. is at level three and has been now for two years. level four indicates that details of when and where an attack is likely, so obviously you can understand my brussels is now at level four and virtually on a lockdown, stopped
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all the metro traffic, et cetera. the impact it has is obviously we're seeing a great disruption to people's lives and was in brussels itself, we are leaking at the essentially the european union, the buildings on lockdown. you can see what is happening. >> a witness at the airport at the time of the explosions checking into a flight told al jazeera what he saw. >> we were at the check in line and about to check in. we were the last ones in line about to enter a building. i was turning around to my girlfriend to say something to her and i saw a light flash, and i heard a big explosion, and then people started to scream and started to run. we realized at this point that there was something, yeah, something going on. i said let's try to stay calm, and yeah, keep thinking, and there was a moment, the second explosion came.
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that's when we started running. we went -- first we wanted to go out, but i don't know what's outside. that's what we decided to go further into the building. we went into a hall and came in an office of the employees of the airport. then we barricade the door just for safety. after 20, 30 minutes, other people came and knocked on the door that we can come out. then we have to go back to the departure hall, and it was chaos. there was the ceiling on the floor, chairs, suitcases, people with injuries, blood on their faces, on their legs, hands, people who were giving c.p.r. to other people and then we went to a secured area to and that's how we got out of the airport
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building. >> a witness stoke to us from maelbeek metro station. >> i was at the station just before maelbeek, as i was exiting the metro, there was a loud muffled shod seemingly coming from upstairs. there was a lot of dust raised and people started kind of panicking and leaving the metro station very quickly. when they came up to the ground level, there were a lot of soldiers there helping the evacuation process. there was a lot of confusion p.m. seemingly now, this was the explosion that took operation at maelbeek, the next metro station that we must have felt from where we are. >> that's a pretty busy station particularly this time of the morning? >> yeah, this time of the morning, the metro was packed. we actually had to wait in the metro station for a while before it left, and so it was
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completely full and yeah, it was a very busy time. >> we're looking at pictures which we believe is coming from the area. imagine it should have been pretty frightening and the fact that the security has been lifted to the highest level yet, how much fear or has there been fear considering what has been happening in the country and the links to those living there to the attacks in paris? >> it's hashes to. i mean everybody has their own individual experience. i have to admit i haven't really felt the fear. i haven't been living in fear despite going through numerous different scenarios and situationles since before november, in fact, but everybody has their own interpretation of events. what is probably the most jarring is the fact that people don't really know what was going on and that was evident this morning in the metro station there. there is a lot of confusion,
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some people would run, some would stapled still, frozen, so on its 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? >> there is a strong security presence. it's always notable. it was surprising for me to getting to the ground floors seeing numerous soldiers there. there was a quick mobilization of people, all the metro stations cleared off. the main street that runs along the main quarter is just packed full of people now walking. everyone's out of the metro stations, so yeah, there is a security presence and they are effective at what they are doing, i guess. >> if you could speculate, i mean how big was the force of the explosion, and did it seem that it was an explosion?
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>> admittedly, no, it didn't. i was a full metro station away. it was more as if -- and there is construction going on all the time here in brussels. there could be a bang that you can't put down that what is it exactly. it was clear that it did cause when consternation. there was a pure panic as soon as there was a bang heard, but like i said, it was one metro station away, so it wasn't discernible quite the extent of the explosion. >> you were telling me earlier that you not are one of those to live in fear because of what is happening. will what you heard and seen and experienced today change that in any way, will it change the way you live now? >> no. no. 100% not. i'll get on with my life and do my own thing. that's the point of attacks lying. they're supposed to make you live in fear, but i refuse to.
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>> that was my colleague speaking earlier there. i spoke early tore isabel at maelbeek train station. >> well, i was just arriving in the area, the metro station quite close to the european building and i was actually at 50 meters of the entrance of the european building and saw people running out, so i decided to take a small road that's actually parallel total streets of the below street which is where the metro station is. as i was taking the parallel road, policemen were running. it was a little chaos there. ambulance were arriving, so i put myself aside and i just waited there. at the same time, press was arriving, the police immediately sealed off the area, and i stayed there, because i was actually blocked. i saw wounded people getting in
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ambulances, then the firemen arrived but at a certain point in time, there was a big alarm and all firemen, all police were running away again. it was quite chaotic there. >> it certainly sounds incredibly kay anotherric. i'm wondering at what point you actually found out what was going on. >> well, i was listening to the radio all the time. when i first on the side of the road, i felt immediately something was going on and then i heard on the radio this there was an explosion at the metro further down. people listen to the radio when these things happen, of course. i heard in the morning explosions by the airport, is actually close by where i live, so we were following media and stuff like that. >> when you say that the airport is closed right away close to where you live, where did you go after you were able to get out from where you were waiting?
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>> actually, we have security measures involved asking everyone to stay inside. people are actually following those security measures, because actually, the roads were quite ok. there were not too many traffic jams, just around the area, maybe one kilometer and after, the roads are actually empty. people are listening to the security measures, stay home, stay inside. >> steve clemens is a foreign policy analyst. >> people knew immediately what had happened. it was just very interesting. there's a fragility here that happens when there is a terror raid and saleh abdeslam was captured. so there's just an awareness here. from everywhere i saw, people were orderly, not screaming, but everyone knew that the police
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and authorities were firm and people complied. i feel like i was nowhere near as close as many others were, but given the frustration, given the fact that brussels is now, has bombs going off and they are shutting basic transportation systems everywhere. all the public transportation is shut down. that's scary to be in the middle of when you're trying to get out. people are seeing what it is to be european, what degree of openness, we're generally quite open societies. i think that there will be some introspection and some people will say, you know, terrorism and crime like this no matter what is something that criminal and intelligence officials can take on and saying this experiment of trying to become more of a melting pot has some edges that are uncomfortable and
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we need to figure it out, but clearly the rise of a kind of national new kind of dark nationalism and some of the countries affected by this is happening in response to this. when you look at incidents like in brussels right now, like in france, you add to that the refugee crisis that's hit europe, you add to that the economic tension inside europe, greece an germany, you have a very toxic mix in europe. aviation officials have introduced new layers of security with every incident. we look at what the bombings in brussels could mean for travelers. >> most airports worldwide boast some of the tightest security. it wasn't always so.
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9/11 was a watershed. after the jet highjackings in 2001, airline passengers were banned from carrying knives or sharp objects in luggage. later that year, richard reed tried to ignite explosives in his shoes. x-ray screening for footwear was introduced. in 2006, british police foiled a plot for liquid explosives, in response, liquid and gels in carry on baggage are regulated for most flights. in 2009, another transatlantic flight was targeted, attempting to blown it up with a bomb concealed in his underwear. many airports use full body scanners. it stirred a conversation about a loss of privacy for security. now breast sells, and another loophole in air travel
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exploited. >> the cells in their preplanning operation will first identify the best targets and look for security. if a target is hard, a lot of security there, they're probably not going to attack it. they want to be successful so go with the easiest target. public transportation is an easy target. >> the blast targeted an airline check in counter in the area before security screening. some airports around the world already force people to have their bags scanned before entering terminals. now questions are being asked about what's next for travelers. >> however do we have to go with security? do we have to really have procedures to even get into a check-in desk? you can understand the problems here that this would cause. this could be one step that has to be taken. >> one again that shows how attackers who are determined to challenge and undermine aviation safety appear to be one step
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ahead. gerald tan, al jazeera. the tired airline pilot told us more about security challenges at airports. >> the procedure would be to evacuate the terminal, which i think of is probably what's going on, and to gather people in all the common safety zones that have been predetermined. if you get everybody out into the car parks, how do you know there isn't a bomb out there, as well. it's a pretty difficult situation, but where do you suggest that everybody go and stand in order to be safe. we heard some of this this morning about a certain level of confusion and do we turn people outside or keep them in the main terminal building. it's a tough one, because nobody knows where these guys are or what they've done. i think the biggest question that is asked however back does the front line of security come.
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anybody can walk into an airport. if you think of the restrictions and difficulties imposed ever since the current restrictions are put in place, can you imagine a situation where you have to be screened before you can even go into the terminal building? i mean it would create a nightmare scenario. the only route to a solution is intelligence activity, because just simply putting up barriers is not a practical solution. >> let's just return to the scene of the airport this morning in brussels just ahead of the top of the hour here in doha, where of course those bombs went off. these pictures show the immediate aftermath around the check-in area at zaventem airport. as you can see, there is smoke and debris everywhere after heavy explosions there. there were two blasts at the airport in total. the second one was more powerful and witnesses say that the
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impact of the bomb caused windows to smash and shatter, so there was a blast at maelbeek metro station, 20 killed there. hearing from local media that brussels local stations are due to reopen one hour from now at 15g.m.t. the ceiling was on the floor, chairs, suitcases, people with injuries blood on their faces, on their legs, hands. >> there were two blasts at brussels airport. one of them probably a suicide bomber. dozens have been killed in coor