A former U.S. counterterrorism official says a recent visit to Molenbeek shows why ISIL is thriving in Europe.
By Matthew Levitt
BRUSSELS—The office of the mayor of Molenbeek municipality sits alongside a picturesque, typically European cobblestone square. Across the square, within plain view of the municipal government, sits the family home of Salah Abdeslam, the Islamic State terrorist who was finally captured two weeks ago after evading authorities since the November Paris attacks.
Nothing separates the two buildings, but they are a world apart.
This is the bifurcated Brussels I saw when, coincidentally, I was in Belgium a few days before the terrorist attacks that killed 31 people and wounded hundreds. I was there to meet with senior counterterrorism, intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as with local officials in the troubled municipality of Molenbeek, the subsection of Brussels where Abdeslam grew up and which even Molenbeek’s mayor, Francoise Schepmans, describes as “a breeding ground for violence.”