Report: Israel warned Belgium of lax airport security

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As recently as a few weeks before the March 22 terror attacks in Brussels, Israel had warned Belgian officials of numerous security deficiencies at Zaventem Airport.

Israeli security officials who assess safety measures at international airports that operate flights to Tel Aviv found “significant shortcomings” at Zaventem, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on March 23.

Belgian Army soldiers patrol at Zaventem Airport in Brussels on March 23. /AP
Belgian soldiers patrol at Zaventem Airport in Brussels on March 23. /AP

Belgium was also criticized for its security failings in the wake of November’s Paris attacks that were largely planned in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, considered a hotbed of Islamist radicalism.

Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz criticized Belgian complacency in the face of rising terrorism, saying Belgians were too busy “eating chocolate and enjoying life” to properly identify terror as Islamist, and would not be able to combat terrorism until it did so.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin accused Brussels of “naivete” over the spread of Islamist extremism in Belgium.

Turkey, meanwhile, has said Belgian officials ignored warnings on one of the attackers in the March 22 attacks who had been deported last year from Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office on March 23 said the Brussels terrorist identified as Ibrahim El Bakraoui was detained in the southern Turkish province of Gaziantep near the Syrian border and was later deported to the Netherlands. Turkey also notified Dutch authorities, Erdogan said.

“One of the attackers in Brussels is an individual we detained in Gaziantep in June 2015 and deported. We reported the deportation to the Belgian Embassy in Ankara on July 14, 2015, but he was later set free,” Erdogan said. “Belgium ignored our warning that this person is a foreign fighter.”