The terrorist attacks in Brussels that killed at least 34 people on Tuesday marks the third large-scale attack in Europe in the last 15 months.
Paris was hit twice last year, and Turkey, which wants to join the EU, was also bombed several times – with the most recent attack happening just over a week ago.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the second Paris attacks, some of the bombings in Turkey, and Tuesday’s attack in Brussels, while an offshoot of Al Queda took responsibilty for the first Paris attack which targeted a kosher market and Charlie Hebdo.
And although the U.S. has been ISIS’ most frequent target of its threats, there have been more attacks in Europe, with only one major ISIS-linked attack in the U.S. – the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California last December. This, though, was sought out by two ISIS supporters, not the ISIS group itself.
So why has Europe become ground zero for Islamic terrorism?
Speaking to Mashable, Robert McFadden, retired special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), said the most obvious factor is America’s ‘huge national security apparatus’.
And Patrick Skinner, director of special projects for the New-York based Soufan Group and a former CIA case officer specializing in counterterrorism issues said the U.S. has ‘very strong border security’ and its’ FBI do ‘a great job of disrupting [terror] plots early.’
Both McFadden and Skinner pointed to the same major factor: the number of European foreign fighters within ISIS, Mashable reports.
According to The Soufan Group, who has been tracking ISIS’ movements, the highest number per capita of European foreign fighters who have joined ISIS are from Belgium, in particular Molenbeek, which has been the centre of ISIS’ attacks in recent months.
The group’s research shows almost 3,700 of the 5,000+ European fighters come from just four countries: Belgium, France, Germany and the UK – two of which have seen major attacks in the last 15 months.
The American fighters, on the other hand, total only dozens.
Skinner and McFadden also cited that luck was another factor keeping the U.S. from falling victim to a large-scale terrorist attack in recent years.
McFadden told Mashable: “The truth is, we’ve been lucky we haven’t had attacks on this scale. The very essence of terror is it’s a sucker punch.
“It’s almost like we don’t like to talk about it at times because we don’t want to jinx ourselves. But it could happen anytime.”
Luck or not, here’s to hoping we all come together to stop these bastards sooner rather than later.