Belgium attack: Capture of Saleh Abdeslam revealed extensive network in Europe

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The arrest of a jihadist linked to the November attacks in Paris revealed a large network operating in the Molenbeek area, the epicenter of terrorism in Brussels.

Salah Abdeslam and two associates, Mohammed Amri and Hamza Attou, at a gas station in Trith-Saint-Léger, near the Belgian border, on Nov. 14, one day after the Paris attacks.
Salah Abdeslam was caught on surveillance video at a gas station near the Belgian border on Nov. 14, one day after the Paris attacks.

Saleh Abdeslam was confirmed by authorities as the potential 10th suicide bomber from the Paris attacks who aborted his attack and fled back to Brussels.

The Molenbeek terror network included over 30 individuals, investigators said. Abdeslam reportedly had access to weaponry that would have allowed him to conduct further attacks.

It was alarming that “despite their success in capturing Abdeslam alive,” Belgian authorities were unable “to adequately deal with a disproportionately large extremist problem,” David Wells wrote in The Interpreter on March 22.

“Of particular importance, given the implications for future attacks, is understanding how such a big group evaded detection by the authorities.”