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tv   News  Al Jazeera  March 22, 2016 12:00pm-12:31pm EDT

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explosion at the station. those are the events of the day in brussels. our main news here on al jazeera. ♪ >> -- was behind separate attacks in the belgian capitol. two explosions went off at the in brussels. here another explosion at the station on the metro underground network. and are these the men who belgian police think were behind the attacks? ♪ good to have you along, you are watching al jazeera live
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from london. i'm david foster. also coming up, as belgian's prime minister appeals for calm and solidarity, brussels remains on lockdown and people are told to stay where they are. >> reporter: we will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally belgian in bringing to justice those responsible. >> the u.s. president condemns the attack during his historic trip to cuba. ♪ isil has said it was behind separate attacks in brussels this morning that left 34 people dead. those who lost their lives were killed in two locations. hundreds more have been hurt. the first attacks were at brussels main airport.
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twine explosions there killed 14 people. then a blast on a commuter train at a central brussels station killed at least 20. suicide attacks we understand, and they were timed to target morning travelers. the first blast at the airport were about 8:15 local time. some witnesses say gunshots were heard there. and an hour later the attack at the station in the heart of brussels. this was in the east brussels subberg of molenbeek, and that's where the alleged suspect in the paris attacks, salah abdeslam was arrested on friday. this security camera picture from the airport has emerged. it shows three suspects. the two in black on the left are believed to be suicide bombers from the airport attack.
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the third man, the one on the right with a hat is being caught, we understand by security forces. now in a moment we'll be talking to neave barker at brussels nation airport. paul brennan is pretty close to mallbeek metro station. but first this report from neave barker. >> reporter: the immiate shock after the attack. the haze of confusion and chaos. and the realization of what just happened. >> stay with her. >> no. no. no. >> reporter: in the seconds that follows people turned to each other for comfort. once again the routine of people's lives of making every day journeys shattered and the dash to escape the danger inside. >> i'm so scared. i feel like it's the end of the world. >> reporter: this woman was in an airport bathroom when the attacker struck. >> i heard an explosion and all
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of the ceiling is going down, and then i just dove under the sink, and then the second explosion went, and then everything is black. across the city another attack in the metro station. men, women, and children abandoned the carriage, escaping as quickly as they could. [ sirens blaring ] >> reporter: the injured treated on the pavement. the army keeping guard. the shock felt everywhere. an immediate shut down of the public transport system was ordered in brussels, and the possibility of further attacks an immediate concern. one rescue organization appealed for people to stay where they were. the shock waves of this apparently coordinated attack have already rippled across the continent. at the airport the injured have been taken to hospitals, the dead to mortuaries. now the grim task of identifying
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those killed begins. just months after the last major attack in europe, fears of another strike on civilians in public places have been realized. >> let's go live to neave who is very close to where the first explosions took place at the airport. and we have had this picture appearing, apparently captured by security cameras inside the departure hall of three men. two on the left we understand thought to be the suspect bombers. the one on the right still being sought by police. what do we know about his providence and the story behind him. >> reporter: yes, this is thought to be a cctv still from security cameras inside the departure lounge. as you said, three individuals -- we don't know much about these three individuals, but according to specialists looking at the
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image, what they say is that at least two of the men in black are both wearing a glove on one of their hands. the suggestion being is that this is so they could hide detonators. of course we're still waiting to hear confirmation that that is the case officially. but the suggestion is from intelligence officials looking at that. they are also trying to establish who the third man is. the man in white with the hat. they have no idea whether he is responsible for possibly carrying out a suicide attack here. so far we only have confirmation that one of the blasts was carried out by a suicide attack, although by judging that picture it could be there were two suicide attacks. these are the kind of things,
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david thank investigators are desperately trying to establish in these coming hours in the wake of this attack at brussels international airport. what is important for them is to make sure that any intelligence gathered here may shine a light potentially on other eminent attacks, and then long term, it could have an impact on ann going investigations that could reveal a lot more about the potential risks for the likes of belgium and neighboring france face in the doing days. >> is the airport where you are, and let's say the departure hall linked directly or easily to where the other explosion was on the metro? >> reporter: well, there's no suggestion that the transport system here from the airport goes directly into the metro system itself. you need to change terminals in
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central brussels to take the metro to be able to make that journey. i think the key suggestion was of course this was a coordinated attack. so they are linking the two in that respect. attacks on this of course this major infrastructure, the airport. also the contain system down in central brussels that of course is in close proximity to the european institution. >> i was just wondering about the third man, whether he could have perhaps have gone down to the downtown location quite easily, but we'll check on that a little bit later on. there was a suggestion, neave, you can confirm this, i believe, that guns -- at least one set of automatic weapons were found in the airport? >> reporter: yes, that's right. actually behind me on the grass at the moment, the airport director has just come out to
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speak to the media. we may have a clearer idea that that is the case very soon. but there has been confirmation from the belgian prosecutor that at least one rifle was found in the departure area of the airport. that seems to confirm what we're hearing from at least two eyewitnesss that we have spoken to. they said they heard gunshots at the same time that both blasts took place. >> okay. we'll leave you to go and hear what the airport director has to say. let's go to paul brennan in brussels very close to the metro station where the second explosion took place where more people actually lost their lives, paul, and what is happening there now? >> reporter: yeah, we have heard that from outside the european commission building, about 300 meters in that direction is
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where the mallbeek metro station is. we' we're being kept back by a police cordon. we have seen vehicles screaming past us with their sirens blaring, and looking in the windows, i have seen both police, army, and plain-clothed police as well. the police cordon, though, has shrunk somewhat. the whole of the european institutions, they were within the security cordon and it was being patrolled by police and army. that cordon as now shrunk to the area around mallbeek station. so it does feel like the police feel the danger has passed now,
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but clearly there are ongoing operations, and we know there are house searches, and property operations going on across the city. at the moment, though, we are being told not to discuss where exactly in the city those operations are taking place for security reasons. >> okay. pall, let's go back a couple of days when the man believed to be the mastermind of the paris attacks was shot and killed in brussels. at that time, police were saying we found a great deal more weapons than we expected. with isil claiming responsibility for this, is it thought that he and his accomplices were directly involved or linked to these attacks today? >> reporter: it's far too early to say at the moment, david. clearly, it's something that the security services here in belgium are going to be looking at very closely indeed. but i have seen reports emanating out of russia that
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suggest a possible pakistani connection. there are a number of different possibilities as to who exactly is behind this and where the network emanates from. the security forces here in belgium, together with for example, the americans and the british who have been lending some kind of operational support, although they didn't go into details. the americans and the brits came out and said they had certain capabilities that they had been allowing the belgiums to use. i think the security forces of belgium are going to need to rely on the brits and the americans a bit more in the coming days to determine who is behind this attack. >> paul brennan thank you very much. as we heard isil said it was behind the attack. let's talk to a fellow in addition diplomacy. with isil saying it was behind the attack it has confirmed what
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many thought, that this could well be linked to what we have seen in paris and brussels in the last few months. >> it has been a very large network, i think, that has been in place for sometime. and the arrest of abdeslam a couple of days ago has made some of these network members realize they only have a number of days before they are detected and removed from the scene, so i think possibly they may have decided to act sooner than they otherwise thought. >> it's too early to say whether this was planned in advance or it was a reaction, and the need was felt to move quickly because the net was moving in. >> of course. and it may be a combination of both things, and it matters very little to be honest. the reaction, does that mean we stop arresting people? i think it's almost immaterial.
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the fact that they had this capability in place and decided to use it, and these security forces and police weren't able to stop them. >> what does it say about isil, daesh's capability. >> it says they are able to inspire people to commit this sort of horror, because they believe that by doing so, they can help their survival and spread. they feel that by making the west feel frightened, the west will disengage, and they will be able to spread their state. they will be able to survive. and until we send an opposite message. many more will be inspired by this belief that this so-called state will continue to survive and continue to spread. >> okay. we're going to come back to you in a little while if i may. after i update you to what foreign leaders have been saying. they have been condemning the
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blasts saying they are an attack on the whole of europe. barnaby phillips will tell us more. >> reporter: the shock waves of events in brussels have spread far and wide. in britain where until recently the police rarely carried guns, they deployed armed and ready. >> i chaired a meeting of cobra here in london to make sure we're doing everything we can to enhance our insecurity, and there will be increased police presence at ports, airports, ung ground stations and international railway stations as you would expect. >> reporter: the british authorities enjoy some advantages over countries on the european mainland. >> this is probably a new phase of terrorism where you have people able to travel easily,
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and far more access to firearms. we don't have that problem so much in the u.k. >> reporter: in france, memories of the paris attacks are still raw. >> translator: terrorism has hit belgium but europe was targeted and the whole world is concerned. we need to realize the extent and gravity of these terrorist threats. paris was particularly targeted last year, in the month of january and the month of november. we are facing a global threat, which demands a global response. >> reporter: and from germany too, expressions of solidarity and concern. >> translator: it appears to be clear the targets of the attacks indicate that this terrorist attack was not just against belgium but against our freedom,
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our freedom of movement, mobility and against everyone who is part of the e.u. >> reporter: and other european governments express concern and solidarity. this is the station in london from where trains normally run to brussels. but they were stopped soon after these attacks. and all over europe people are asking themselves, is this the new normal? and then there are the political effects to europe's already wavering commitment to open borders and to its treatment of migrants and refugees. the consequences of today's represents in brussels will be felt across europe for a long time to come. let's cross over to professor of international relations and security analyst as well. he joins us now via skype. >> in terms of the preparedness
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for these attacks, where would you say the authorities actually were, given the fact they arrested salah abdeslam just a couple of days ago and said there was another suspect on the run. >> this is the kind of attack that is incredibly difficult to prevent. and the kind of scenario that we have witnessed today in brussels is a kind of horror scenario that all of the european capitols have been fearing since the paris attacks in november. coordinated attacks. and against a softer target, well, that's hard to prevent. >> is a quote here i have got from somebody who is an aviation secure if i consultant. he said surely the whole airport
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should be secure from the moment you arrive in the car park. that would seem to be almost an impossible attack. >> yeah, you can fortify whatever targets that you want. if the terrorist wants to attack somewhere, it will always find either a baseball field, or a stage, or a school, or warehouse. you will always find this kind of target. it's impossible to put a soldier on every corner of the street. >> paris attacks were in november. and we had the arrest of abdeslam in brussels. from what you have hear from your contacts within the security forces and those people who have been on the trail of this, how big of network do you think either abdeslam and his
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accomplice or any of these three that we can see on our screen now, how big of network do you think it might be? >> we have been surprised in belgium about the increasing number of individuals involved. in the beginning it was said there was only ten individuals involved in this kind of network of foreign fighters linking up with local sympathizers in many belgium and france. and now it appears that we are around 30 or 40 or 50, and this reminds me of a number that one of the paris attackers who was killed in the police raid about at a certain moment he said well i came from syria to europe with 90 -- 90 foreign fighters. well, this might be the volume of -- of the network that we are speaking of. and this is clearly linked with
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one of the [ inaudible ] in syria, which was composed of french-speaking belgians and frenchmen. so it is kind of a pile network to i would say gorman speaking or norwegian speaking foreign fighters. it's the matrix from which many of the plots and attacks since last year has sprung. >> i want to read something to you, quoting the regional governor of this part of belgium saying a third bomb failed to explode at the airport. what have you heard about that? >> yeah, that's right. that is what the press sees are reporting. we have to see if it is -- if it's correct or -- or not. there's now a picture circulating of two baumers and
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one that is actively searched, but it's very early. and i'm sure the police are working very hard together with their foreign colleagues and especially with the french in order to get as soon as possible to grips with this threat. >> okay. thank you very much indeed for that. now the head of the airport has just been speaking in brussels. neave barker referring to that press conference taking place. this is what he had to say. >> translator: today was a black day. i'm very sad for the airport. our thoughts go fist to the victims and families and friends. the airport was hit very hard. two bombs went off in the
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departure hall where there were thousands of people during the check-in. 600 flights have been canceled. tomorrow we hope to restart operations. >> that's the head of the airport talking just a short while ago. the e.u. head of foreign policy, she appeared to be overcome with emotion as she reacted to news of the attacks during a news conference she was giving. >> it is also a very sad day for europe, as europe and its capitol are suffering the same thing that this region has known and knows every single day. we are still waiting for more precise news on the dynamics of the attacks in brussels. but it is quite clear that the roots of the pain we are
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suffering around our region are very much the same. >> yeah, difficult moment there. crossing to cuba, where the u.s. president has been calling for the world to unite. president obama making his historic trip to cuba. we may be able to mention a little bit about what he had to say about cuba later, but for now as we join patty culhane who has been with the u.s. president and is in havana. patty let's concentrate on the u.s. reaction to what has happened in belgium. and we heard from the u.s. president who said he and his people would do anything they
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could to help. >> reporter: exactly, and the white house is very quick to try to send the message that the president is on top of it even though he is here in cuba. we do know that he reached out to the prime minister of belgium and did offer condolences and support. some of that support could be like we saw after the attacks in paris, we saw the fbi send a team of agents to help basically track down what happened. obviously the atf, they have a lot of expertise when it comes to explosivexplosives. but they don't talk about the nsa, we know they have great ability to track people's mobile conversations. but the president even though he was here and it was a very carefully organized and choreographed speech to the
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cuban people, he made sure that was the first thing he talked about. let's listen. >> the thoughts and prayers of the american people are with the people of belgium, and we standing in solidarity with them. we will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible. and this is yet another reminder that the world must unite. we must be together regardless of nationality, or race, or faith, in fighting against the scourge of terrorism. we can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around any world. >> yeah, and as he says, it is not just in europe, but all around the world. and i'm reading that security stepped up at major transport hubs across the united states. in new york particularly, the
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governor saying we are going to step up our security measures. >> reporter: uh-huh. and people are going to start asking, is it time now that we make it even more restrictive to go into an airport. when you go into an american airport it is incredibly cumbersome, but it doesn't get to that point until you actually get to security. most american airports have big halls where you can eat and drink and regroup. >> what about the candidates in the presidential elections, not actually into the election yet, but in the parties runoffs for the nomination? we have heard from clinton. we have heard from trump. anything in particular that they
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had to say? >> reporter: david i have to confess the internet service here in cuba is not the fastest that i have ever scene. so i'm a little bit behind on my news lines with the presidential candidates. it would be unusual for them to try to make political hay out of this. but overwhelmingly earn in people think that president obama is not doing a good job when it comes to the fight against islamic state of iraq and the levant. so the republican candidates saying they are going to take a much tougher stance. there was one who said he was going to carpet bomb all of syria and iraq, which of course is in fact, illegal, and a more hawkish tone from hillary clinton, because they are sensing that there is anger and confusion and concern from the american people on this issue.
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after the paris attacks that hit home for americans they did polls and they said what is your level of concern? do you think a terror attack is imminent in the united states? and it was the highest numbers that we have seen since just after 9/11. so this is a real concern for the american people. the media tends to make them a little sensationalized about that, but it does become a campaign issue. >> patty sorry to put you on the spot. but i understand the problems, let me just mention what hillary clinton had to say, the attacks will strengthen our resolve to stand together as allies and defeat terrorism and radical gee ahhedism around the world. ash carter telling the armed services committee no attack will stop our resolve to defeat
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isil. here on al jazeera, we're going to take a short break, back in just a moment, but as we go out, let's show you some pictures which were taken by a survivor at the airport. well, it's difficult to see in the clouds of dust, but you can pick up the sounds of confusion and panic in the immediate aftermath of the two explosions in that departure hall. okay. you are watching al jazeera with special coverage of events in particular today in brussels. ♪