The Belgian Interior Minister revealed that there were reports of people celebrating in the streets following the deadly March 22 terrorist attacks in Brussels that killed 32 people.
Jan Jambon made the statements during a symposium entitled "Terrorism, Israel and International Law," organized by the Dutch anti-racism and pro-Israel lobby group Center of Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) in The Hague, Netherlands, according to the Times of Israel.
The exact quote from Jambon was not published.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Jambon said budget cuts and lack of adequate information-sharing are to blame for the failure to prevent the deadly attack.
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“For years, we have cut the budgets of these departments way too much,” Jambon said. “I’m pushing for more resources. Each house search yields mobile phones, personal computers, hard drives … that need to be verified — and contain other clues. This is a gigantic job.”
Jambon blamed himself for not preventing the attack because he did not transfer information that Turkey had provided on Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, one of the Brussels suicide bombers, who was caught last year near the Syrian border in Turkey.
Jambon offered his resignation to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, “But he convinced me to stay,” the Interior Minister said.
The day before the attacks in Brussels, federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said his office opened 315 terrorism cases in 2015 and 60 new cases this year alone, reported the Wall Street Journal.
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“This shows the scale of the phenomenon we are confronted with at the moment, where radicalization is becoming more and more concerning, especially since it’s becoming or could become violent,” Van Leeuw said.
After the Nov. 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Belgium announced a $448 million investment in counter-terrorism, created a new terrorist database, and changed laws to allow home searches 24 hours a day, instead of only between 9 a.m. And 5 p.m.
“It would have been better if we had done this a year ago,” Jambon said. “This indeed requires time. But quality should prevail over speed.”