tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera March 22, 2016 9:00pm-9:31pm EDT
>> that's our broadcast. and we want to leave you with a picture of the empire state building. the top is dark tonight out of respect to the victims of the brussels attacks. i'm john seigenthaler. thanks for watching. >> i'm ali velshi on target tonight the bombings in belgium. how a tiny country has become a big focus in the global fight against terrorists. what a harrowing day for belgium. two explosions ripped through brussels airport. a third explosion rocked the metro station just a few miles away. more than 30 people have been killed. hundreds wounded. within hours isil claimed
responsibility. the group said detonators were on belts of the bombers killing people around them. the belgium interior ministry responded by raising its terrorism alert to its highest level. and it's noted how belgium is a country participating in the international coalition against the islamic state, end quote, investigators are focusing on a possible connection about the deadly attacks that rocked paris last november. now key suspect in those attacks is 26-year-old salah abdeslam who was apprehended last week. he had been cooperating with investigators, but they also warned of new attacks targeting belgium. the country has been high alert since his arrest. and since today's attacks appear to bear out those fears.
but all this highlights a bigger fear about belgium. the country is fast becoming the nexus for violence in europe carried out by the likes of isil and al qaeda. investigators believe that the weapons used in the charlie hebdo attacks a year ago were smuggled from brussels. months later a gunman in a failed train attack in france had links to belgium, now abdeslam and his co-conspirators, all of them are said to have operated in brussels. many have blocked to war zones and libya to join other groups. belgium is europe's biggest contributor of foreign fighters, and they're coming back to fight in europe. authorities need to go further and build trust with muslim
communities in places like molenbeek the place in brussels where salah abdeslam was hiding when the police arrested him last week. that's the view of not me but jack berger, with a new york firm that provides security. were these attacks likely retaliatory for the arrest of abdeslam, or were they something else that may have been in the works. >> certainly they were already in the works based on how prepared these individuals were to carry out these attacks. they had plans, they had the materials to carry out these bombings. we don't know whether they were in retaliation or revenge for the arrest of salah abdeslam or if they were afraid that they would give away their location to the authorities and foil
their attempt to carry out the plots, so they wanted to get a jump on the authorities and carry out the bombings. >> why is belgium so central? >> we talk about salah abdeslam grew up in brussels, and just like in paris, you have certain amounts of disenfranchisement, high unemployment rate. very segregated. muslim communities that are segregated from societies and this can lead to pierre-to-pierre radicalization networks that we've seen in paris and in molenbeek. >> analysis of this makes me think of those who are radicalized in prison. a closed-in environment where it's easy to talk with people,
and develop leaders and influence those who are around them. >> and in molenbeek, there is a link of those who travel to the islam state. you can see there is a connection. a lot of these individuals who are traveling from europe to fight with the islamic state are not very religious individuals at first. they don't have a lot of knowledge of islam, and yet they're traveling to fight because they're criminals. they don't have the same kinds of opportunities and so they're much more vulnerable to radicalization. >> what is the solution? is it a different kind of policing? what works. what should authorities be thinking about? >> you'll have to have the intelligence networks and the raids they've been carrying out since the paris attacks and now
since these attacks. however, you're going to also need to build trust within communities, as you mentioned in your opening, because otherwise law enforcement just isn't equipped to engage with these communities and the communities are the best equipped to know what is happening with these networks. not do say that they're withholding from the authorities. you hear this a lot that muslim communities need to do this, but law enforcement needs to be engaging with them. >> the tension--we see this in new york. the tension is that law enforcement begins to concentrate on these communities, and the communities begin to see themselves as the other to law enforcement. on one hand, muslim communities in belgium are under the scrutiny of law enforcement, but at the same time, they've got to develop some sorts of relationships where people in that community will say we've got a problem that we think is developing here. >> there is a difference working with them and working against them. if the community feels as though
they're being alienated further, even when abdeslam was arrested, he was shot outside of his apartment, there were some who were celebrating, but there were some who were protesting because they felt that the police were heavy handed, that their investigation was heavy handed, they were arresting and interrogating too many people. and law enforcement still does not have that balance right. >> let's turn to intelligence for a second. one of the things that intelligence and security experts including ali sufan has written about, pre9/11, there were agencies operating in an uncoordinated manner. and probably the biggest success since 9/11 in the united states, nobody says it's perfect, but a coming together of these groups. the sharing of information. knowing what we know now if we had been more integrated we may have been able to stop 9/11.
where does europe stand in terms of the way they integrate or share or don't share intelligence and law enforcement information? >> obviously there is a lot of work to be done. and after the paris attacks we saw that these individuals who had traveled from belgium had traveled from france to fight in syria and had been returned. not just to france but belgium as well. and that there is clearly an intelligence failure. clearly a failure of law enforcement in being able to identity these individuals, and being able to detect the cells when they're planning attacks, and to be able to know where those materials are coming from and what the targets are. and so better communication and better coordination definitely something that is necessary particularly in tracking foreign fighters as they come back and forth, not just to syria, but returning to syria as well. >> in this molenbeek, in brussels and european cities where they've had high
concentrations of working class people with high unemployment, their networks of communication are such that it may be undetectable from the outside. >> it is difficult to detect familial or community-based cells. also in terms of law enforcement, as law enforcement learns, so do terror cells. they learn what the strategies are and they learn how to avoid them. salah abdeslam had been hiding for four months and remained undetected. you have to have relationships and trust with the communities so that it's not easy for these networks to prey on vulnerable populations. >> good to talk with you. jack berger, a research analyst. we move beyond the streets of brussels to where young men are vulnerable to radicalization.
>> even before today's attacks. belgium was fast becoming a nexus for violence in europe. per capita belgium contributes more foreign fighters to the war zones in the middle east than it's neighborhoods. a document called "my jihad" gives us a ground-level look from a suburbs of brussels. here is a clip.
>> rudy is the belgium journalist and filmmaker. you just saw him behind that documentary. he joins us from brussels. rudy, thank you so much for being with us. first of all, i hope you and your family and friends are all safe today. >> it's a small margin because we were supposed to be taking footage from where the bottom exploded, so we were lucky. >> let's talk about this. you and i had a conversation from when that documentary first aired. the attacks in brussels are devastating. what makes brussels or belgium an unique target or unique place for these attacks? >> well, brussels--brussels is the capital of europe. it is also the seat where nato headquarters is based. and it's a small country with a lot of connections as well as
germany, london, france, paris. and you have this--this amount of jihadi fighters who came from the areas, the suburbs of brussels. you have all the elements for a jihadi storm. >> when you were talking with these people, did you get a sense that these disaffected youth where the work class, there is high unemployment, some may have been in prison for petty crimes. how do you make the connection with that and the breeding ground for potential european-born terrorists. >> the problem is wider than that. because when you make the profile of a lot of these jiha jihadis who left, you have this small criminals, the problem of
no jobs, education failed, but at the same time you have quite a lot of jihadi kids who are from well middle class, so it is not only that. it looks like we've lost--a small part, but a part of a generation. that makes it very strange. because syria is near. they go there. they feel this sense of injustice about what is happening there. the double standards in international politics. at the same time they are collective as if they weren't entering some sort of a sect. they're disconnected with their friends, their family, then they left. and then their minds were more blown up over there in raqqa and syria, and then they come back and do these things. >> you talk to mothers who raised their sons in what seemed to be normal environments, fun-filled, good homes, loving homes. what do these mothers say why it is that their sons are attracted
to this? >> they don't understand. there is a lot of shame. there is a lot of shame about what their sons did. you must imagine how do they feel. some of them came from belgium. how do they feel after they seek after that on the internet, the movies of their sons cutting off heads and things like that. which is very disturbing for them. at the same time they try to cope with it, and that's very embarrassing for them. i spoke with mothers who don't follow the cliché of how it's supposed to be. for them its difficult to understand. they even have other kids, and they don't fit into this pattern, either. but not to forget the latest people they arrested here in spruce else, also those who did these attacks, you know, these are also--there is a connection with some part of criminals.
small-time criminals but heavy criminals, which is very disturbing. >> we were just speaking to our last guest about that. the fact that sometimes these neighborhoods are look prisons and some of these people have been to prisons so there is a lot of similarity. you met with a man, a young imam, working with boys in the community to try to prevent radicalization. there are examples of this here in america all over the place. can these imams with their words win the battle that hits these kids over the internet or social media or in molenbeek, in these small communities where the radicals seem to have more sway than the moderates? >> yes, by the way, i sat next to him on a live show this evening here on belgium public television. he is now even more outspoken than he was last year. he said that he felt really
disgusted about what happened. and he was very--he overcome his fear. so he now he was speaking out for the imams like him should put another discourse. should educate the next generation. he is very, very active in his schools with the kids from 9th 9th, 11th, 12th, not to lose the next generation, and to have this other language into the heads of these kids. this is very important. >> rudy, let me ask you, i find it hard to talk to my own kids about simple things like dating and parties and how they're supposed to behave. how are parents supposed to talk to their kids about not joining an extremist group? did these mothers say that the signs were obvious to even know to talk to them about this? >> yes, these mothers, they spoke about it in a certain way. they said, for example, we went on a trip to morocco to where they came from, to disconnect
them with the bad friends or from the internet. but they didn't take into account there was always facebook, there was always the internet. and you know, the peer pressure of their friends, so they took them away. they compared it really with the kind of behavior in a sect where you are disconnected slowly, slowly, or even quickly in a few month's time from the families, from the emotions, and from the friends. they get into another universe, and they're taken away. some of the mothers, they tried to speak about it, but they failed. >> last time i said i hope that a lot of people watch the documentary. i'm sorry that your documentary becomes more relevant and more important when bad things happen, but it is. thank you for being with me again. all the best to you and those around you in brussels and belgium, our hearts are with you tonight. rudy is a fill maker and is behind "my jihad." coming up, the debate over
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weeks, sometimes months. >> what's your message then? >> we need help now. >> you're watching al jazeera america. >> today's deadly explosions in brussels comes more than three months after 14 people died in a shooting ram badge in san bernardino, california. the investigation into the husband and wife who carried out the december attack soon led to the iphone owned by the man, the fbi's insistence that apple unlock that phone and apple's refusal to do so has sparked a raging debate over privacy and security. but this week federal prosecutors asked a judge to delay a court hearing saying that the fbi may be able to crack the phone without apple's help. joining me now is our science and technology correspondent
jake ward. what do we know at this point about the fbi pulling back from that court date? why would they give up in forcing apple to help them break the code. >> it seems that when you look at the rumbles in the tech community, the idea is that the fbi has some how figured out a way to copy the flash memory off the phone, take it off and restore it as many times it needs to. if you imagine, a very difficult video game and saving it at some point in the game so you can go back and try it again and again. that's the technical nature of the fix here. but it's also--the timing makes this suspect. there is sort of a strange--the time something very strange here. literally the day before they were supposed to go. you have to think that there may have been both a legal and technical reason for this shift in strategy. >> turning to these events that are in brussels. let's talk about this for a second.
apple's argument about privacy, the need for a line to be drawn when it comes to government surveillance in our lives certainly feels off on a day like today. privacy laws and intelligent services in europe are different than they are in the united states. what is today's attack in brussels say about this privacy versus technology debate. >> with all things being equal, in the abstract you would think that apple would be backing away from this sentiments on a day like today or the tech community would say it's true, we should open the doors to as many devices as possible. but it turns out when you dig into it, it would not have solved the problem. and it certainly would not have gotten us in front of the paris attacks. we figured out in the paris attacks of november, the attackers did not use encryption in any way. you'll recall there was heat on the what's happen. that the attack necessary paris had use what' use apps.
but that's not true. they used burner phones and just making phone calls to one another. it's shown now in security footage. there was no way that decrypting in the way that apple would have in this case would have helped in any real way. so you couple that with also belgium, which is a famously fractious intelligence infrastructure, and it just takes apart that whole idea that we should be opening up as much data as possible in surveillance because the government is certainly ham trunk in its ability to make good use of it. belgium is in a zone where you cannot check david beckhams or fly lists against passengers very easily even when a hit comes up you normally only get back the police officer or phone number that might give more information. this is not a david beckham that the government can draw on very effectively if we just gave them the data.
it turns out there is not the infrastructure to get out there. until there is a better ability to derive better insight, then the data itself remains useless. >> it does strike me that they have better reasons than they tell us for wanting to get into it. let's go back to the apple case, it's on a fishing expedition. they want to see where this might lead them as opposed to exactly what you're articulating, the idea that they can gain certain specific insight from certain types of access. maybe they made the argument, but it seems that they got to make a better argument for why they would want to get into these things. >> well, i think that's right. and first and foremost there has to be an instance in which something has actually been derived, has been headed off something of an investigation. there is no instance that we know of in which the authorities got any kind of prior insight to something by use of getting into
somebody's phone ahead of time or listening to their--listening in on their phone conversations or decrypting the text messaging. none of that has shown to have any effect. that said, newly unsealed court documents say that apple faces multiple doctor more than a dozen court orders that the fbi may be preparing now, that the justice department may be preparing them to unlock them in all kinds of other cases. we're talking about a legal precedence that the government is determined to pursue. we just haven't seen any technical evidence that it is going to be as much assistance as you and i might believe. >> there is a bar above which these tech companies are prepared to participate or cooperate. i get the feeling that they just don't want this to become a slippery slope. do they admit there is a bar, a
sliding scale, or as far as they're concerned, privacy is absolute. >> i think it's the transition, the moment in history that we're at right now. imagine you were in the position of the department of justice or fbi, until now you had almost complete cooperation of technological companies in any kind of surveillance they needed to do. wiretapping was the simplist thing in the world. there was a court order and you could listen at any time on any phone. now it must be bewildering to look at the tech community to find out that they may have been helpful to a point, but now they are building projects that they, the companies themselves, cannot get into. apple has built a system that it cannot penetrate for the government. these are technologies that the companies cannot help the government with. this must be disorienting to the department of justice. even though the tech community has shown a willingness to
cooperate, they now realize we have too many customers. we have to protect them against all forms of surveillance, and this is where apple and now everyone else is going to begin to draw the line. >> jake ward is our tech correspondent joining us from francisco. that is our show. thank you for joining us. the news continues here on al jazeera america. ♪ >> thanks for being us for this america's tonight special report, i'm joie chen. it's a calling card as a merciless enemy, and isil was willing to