The first reports described a scene with several shooters with Kalashnikovs, hand grenades and an hour long shootout in what seemed eerily reminiscent to the islamist massacre in Mumbai 2008.
It turned out that these reports were to a large extent wrong.
It now appears to have been a single perpetrator, named by Belgian authorities as an Nordine Amrani aged 32 who ended the killing spree by blowing himself up with a hand grenade.
His criminal record which included offences regarding firearms, narcotics and sexual abuse indicates a ruthless criminal possibly fuelled by cannabis psychosis who finally went over the edge. It has been suggested that him being called to a
If one where to assume the is any rationality to the madness, that scenario does raise questions why Amrani attacked innocent commuters and shoppers instead of the police?
It has been speculated that he should have some sort of right wing motives, but those kind of terrorist attacks are usually not that indiscriminate (in a Western European context) but more often targets immigrants or symbols of the political system they so despise. This was indiscriminate and targeted anyone within shooting range.
Another scenario based on his presumed maghreb origin is that this is the latest instance of micro-Jihad, like the Fort Hood shooting in 2009 or the partly failed suicide bombing in central Stockholm almost to the day last year. As several larger islamist conspiracies have been foiled over the last years the and the CIA targeted killings have decimated islamists in their previous safe havens they have switched tactics more and more to micro-Jihad.
Small groups or single individuals relying to a large extent on the internet to find inspiration and know how have proved very hard for the authorities to detect before they strike. That was aptly demonstrated last year with the abysmal failure of the Swedish Secret Police who didn't have a clue Taimour Abdulwahab even existed until he blow himself to pieces at Drottninggatan in central Stockholm.
But then again there need no be any master plan or sinister conspiracy behind today's tragedy. For the victims and their relatives there is probably little consolation in either explanation.
My thoughts and prayers are with the peoples of Belgium tonight.
De Telegraaf, De Telegraaf,