President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dropped a bomb at a press conference with his Romanian counterpart when he disclosed that one of the suicide bombers that was involved in the recent DAESH terrorist attacks in Brussels had been caught in Turkey and deported to the Netherlands in July 2015 with a stern warning to Belgium and Holland that the person was a terrorist fighter. The Belgian response was immediate. The Belgians acknowledged that the terrorist had been deported from Turkey and that they were warned that he was a terrorist fighter but said the person identified as Ibrahim El Bakraoui had not been involved in any "criminal activity" at that time and so he was released. What is interesting is that the Belgians knew well that this person was involved in criminal activity in Belgium, as he was caught while aiding a robbery and firing a Kalashnikov and was later convicted and sentenced to nine years imprisonment. So they knew he was a criminal, they knew he was caught in Turkey in the southeastern provincial city of Gaziantep while trying to get to Syria and they still let him go free. If this is not an act of negligence, what is?
The Belgian government has to first give an account to its people about this act of negligence that resulted in the deaths of so many people at the airport and metro station in Brussels. Then they have to convince Turkey and their other allies that they are capable of participating in an international effort to effectively fight terrorism.
Fighting DAESH will need an intensive and concerted international effort among NATO allies as well as others, is Belgium up to this challenge?
Belgium has a very bad track record in fighting terrorism, especially terrorism directed against Turkey. They gave refuge to Turkey's leftist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party Front (DHKP-C) terrorists who killed Turkish industrialist Özdemir Sabancı and two of his colleagues in the heart of Istanbul and then fled to Belgium. They have bowed to the activities of PKK terrorists in Belgium who have been terrorizing Turks and Kurds living in this country. Their latest flop was last week when they allowed the PKK to open a propaganda tent where photos of terrorists were displayed, especially of the suicide bomber who struck in Ankara killing dozens of people recently. The tent was erected next to the building where Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu attended a summit with European Union leaders on Syrian migrants. DAESH has shown that no country is immune to terrorist attacks. However, it is clear that while Turkey is making every effort to keep Europe safe, catching potential terrorist attackers and sending them back to European countries with warnings and intelligence information, we see that our efforts are either not properly appreciated or disregarded.
Belgium has been badly shaken and traumatized by the attacks in Brussels despite the fact that the country is surrounded by stable and relatively safe countries in the north of Europe. They now see how their so-called liberal policies have been counterproductive in the fight against terrorism. So it is time for Belgium and its fellow European countries to do some real soul searching and try to understand how Turkey, against all odds and in a region riddled with instabilities and violence, is coping with the menace of terrorism. They have to stop aiding and encouraging militant Kurds and other groups and start cooperating in earnest with Turkey to effectively combat terrorism.
The failure to do so only means terrorists will continue to dominate Europe. Turkey will capture terrorist fighters from DAESH and Europeans will just set them free, hence the events in Brussels.