Sirens are heard on the streets of Brussels after ISIS claims terrorist fighters launched attacks on the airport and subway station in Belgium’s capital. Police hunt for explosives and terrorists, and work to stop what might be next.
An urgent manhunt is underway across Europe for the terrorist who got away.
Belgium's prime minister has called for three days of national mourning following the terror attacks. Thirty-four people were killed and more than 200 others hurt, including Americans.
Police have now confirmed two men seen on airport security cameras were behind the bombings. Both are dead, and investigators are trying to find a third man.
ISIS has claimed responsibility. The tragedy has triggered security alerts across western Europe and brought warnings in the U.S. Several U.S. airlines diverted and canceled flights to and from Belgium.
Two Bay area women -- USF Sarasota-Manatee Chancellor, Dr. Sandra Stone, and USFSM Director of Global Engagement Amela Malkic -- are in Brussels and are safe.
There are so many close calls. American terrorism expert Dr. Anne Speckhard had been heading to the Brussels airport when the attacks happened.
“My friend called hysterically shouting at me, ‘Where are you? Where are you?’ He knew I was supposed to be at the airport,” says Speckhard.
Right after the terror attacks at the Brussels airport, frantic calls flooded Speckhard's phone. The Georgetown University professor has been in Belgium interviewing terrorists and digging into their mindset. She'd been on the way to the airport when the two suspected suicide bombers struck.
“I'm glad I don't go to my flights early, because I think I missed it by about a half-hour. I stayed at the hotel, and then the subway just down the street blew up. I feel so terribly sorry for the people who are hurt and killed, and anger, real anger,” Speckhard says.
Speckhard says this is a new kind of terrorist attack targeting the area of the airport before security. It possibly exposes vulnerabilities at airports everywhere.
“You can walk in with a huge suitcase and look quite strange and wearing bulky cloths with a suicide vest under it, and you might just look like somebody with too much luggage. It’s a terrible place that a lot of us are crowded into and defenseless,” says Speckhard.
She says an ISIS defector recently told her, as in the Paris attacks and in Brussels, terrorists don't care how many innocent lives are lost.
“He was really frightening, talking to this guy, and he's out on the streets. "He said, ‘Well, you didn't get your American Revolution without any blood being spilled.’”
ISIS vows “what will be coming will be worse." Speckhard believes there's a greater chance of another terror attack in Europe where it's easier to cross borders, and she says terror cells are more organized and angry.
Speckhard says she'll likely have to take a train to Paris or London then fly home, but she's told flights on Wednesday from London are booked.
USF says it's working to get its employees home safely, too. USF President Dr. Judy Genshaft says, “The entire USF community is saddened by the news of the attacks that happened in Brussels, Belgium, throughout the night. Everyone affected by these attacks is in our thoughts and prayers. This event hits close to home as our own USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Dr. Sandra Stone and USFSM Director of Global Engagement Amela Malkic are currently in Brussels as part of a trip through our Global Engagement Office. We have confirmed that both are safe and unharmed. USF System personnel are working with the central USF World office to ensure that they arrive home safe and sound. The safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff are paramount to the USF System, and we continue to do everything in our power to ensure that they remain safe when traveling abroad.”