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Coffee House

If Brussels feared a terrorist attack, why was its airport security so lax?

22 March 2016

2:58 PM

22 March 2016

2:58 PM

This morning, we woke up to the terrible news that two bombs had exploded in Brussels airport. Having been through it a few days ago, unfortunately I can’t say I’m surprised that this attack has happened in this particular airport.

When I arrived at Brussels airport on Sunday I expected to see a heavy police presence, especially given that Salah Abdeslam – the terror suspect who had been on the run since the Paris attacks – had been arrested two days previously in Brussels. Even then, the authorities had been warning of a retaliatory attack. And for good reason: a large number of weapons had also been found in raids in the Molenbeek district of the city earlier in the week, which may have suggested that another Paris style attack was imminent.

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The bomb blasts that took place today appear to have happened within the check-in areas of the airport, which are pre-security checks, but in the circumstances you’d expect a police presence even there. I was astonished to find no police presence at all in the check-in area, no police sniffer dogs, not even the token armed police officer you often see patrolling airports.

I was flying from Brussels to Basel and after scanning my boarding pass to enter the security area there were not even any passport checks in place. I assume this is because of Schengen*, but it didn’t exactly fill me with confidence. I then headed to the queue for the security screening where again there was a distinct lack of security. The woman ahead of me in the line refused to remove her liquids from her hand luggage. Rather than argue with her, the security guard waved the woman through. Not what you would expect from a country that is supposedly on high alert for a terrorist attack.

Sophie Ryan is a staff member at The Spectator.

* If this French journalist is to be believed, the security at the airport was lax even by local standards.

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