On Tuesday, March 22, terrorists set off bombs in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. At least 10 people were killed at the Brussels airport, while at least 20 more perished at the Maelbeek metro station. The terrorist group ISIS claimed responsibility. Belgian authorities identified three suspects, two of whom were suicide bombers.
Terrorist experts had considered Belgium a “top concern” because of the large number of terrorists traveling in and out of the country. Last Friday, Belgian police captured Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the Paris terrorist attack.
In the wake of the Brussels attacks, Donald Trump again called for a moratorium on allowing Muslims to immigrate to the United States. He also called for “expanding international law” to permit the use of torture, and he predicted, “This is going to happen in the United States.” On the “Today Show,” Trump called for the use of waterboarding and other torture methods to interrogate suspects.
“If it was up to me and if we changed the laws and have the laws, waterboarding would be fine,” Mr. Trump said. “If they could expand the laws I would do a lot more than waterboarding.”
In waterboarding, the captive is tied to a board and forced to wear a cloth over their face while water is poured over their head. The idea is make the person feel as if they are drowning.
Trump also commented that Muslims are “not assimilating,” and he accused some “in the community” of not identifying or reporting possible terrorists.
In an interview on MSNBC, Malcolm Nance, A Navy veteran and terrorism expert who is head of the Terrorism Asymmetrics Project condemned Trump’s comments as “irresponsible.”
During the interview, Nance hypothesized that Salah Abdeslam, the arrested Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) militant had apparently had a “stroke of conscience” as he dumped his cellphone and suicide vest before surrendering to the authorities. Nance also pointed out that it was standard procedure for ISIS to keep its cells isolated from each other in order to prevent captured or otherwise compromised members from giving up information – even if they were tortured.
Nance then harshly criticized Trump for wanting to use the military to torture suspects, “We cannot be ordered to commit war crimes. You cannot change the laws to make us dishonor ourselves by committing war crimes. We’ve already gone down that road, and as General Hayden said a few weeks ago, the United States military and the central intelligence organizations, and national intelligence organizations will not carry out these orders again. So all this bluster is not helping us, it’s playing great in [Daesh’s de facto capital] Raqqa, but will not play well in the European Union and it will not play well in the United States.”
On a March 10, during an interview with MSNBC, General Hayden told Lawrence O’Donnell that US military would not obey an “illegal order.” O’Donnell also noted that Trump would be working with many of the same generals that President Obama is – and many of these generals agree with Hayden that torture is “repulsive.”
In his interview, Nance argues that torture is not just repulsive and immoral – it also helps ISIS. Nance believes that Trump’s displays of xenophobia, bigotry and ruthlessness can be used as recruiting tools by ISIS. Terrorists presumably have access to the Internet and Youtube. They can show young recruits videos of Trump, who might one day be President, making his statements . It would probably be very easy to then convince the recruits that Trump’s statements are typical of American thinking.
As Nance says, ”Donald Trump right now is validating the cartoonish view that they tell their operatives…that America is a racist nation, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and that that’s why you must carry out terrorist attacks against them…It’s irresponsible and it needs to stop.”