Belgium’s security services must be hailed for the success of the major operation that led to the capture of Europe’s most wanted man, Salah Abdeslam, on Friday in cooperation with the French security services in the sealed-off Molenbeek district of Brussels.
Local authorities have done an impressive job in controlling the area and ensuring the safety of residents while seaching for those behind November’s Paris attacks that killed 130 people and was claimed by ISIL. Another man was also killed in the same area earlier this week during a police raid in which four officers were wounded after at least one gunman opened fire.
The capture of Salah Abdeslam should bring some peace to the neighbourhood, and to the countries that have been going through difficult times in the recent months. Brussels, where the subway and schools were temporary closed and the New Year’s Eve fireworks display was cancelled because of security threats, can breathe a small sigh of relief. But this shouldn’t be perceived as the end of the terror threat.
The fight against extremism continues, not only in Brussels but across Europe and around the world. ISIL and similar extremist groups operate using independent cells that can carry out attacks without coordination. As such, vigilance is the first line of defence across the multifarious extremist threat.
ISIL defectors, such as the American Mohammed Jamal Khweis, who surrendered to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq last week, know how radical groups are effective in expanding their power by recruiting more naive people from all over the world.
An estimation of 30,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries have joined extremist groups, such as ISIL and Al Qaeda, according to the United Nations. This is why it’s important to target the recruitment process and make more efforts to stop any funding to these organisations. We praise the determination of the Belgium security forces in apprehending Abdeslam but we understand that this is only the beginning of a long effort against extremism worldwide.