Explaining the attacks in Brussels

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Explaining the attacks in Brussels

March 23, 2016 - Jim Denison, PhD

People light candles at a memorial set up outside the stock exchange in Brussels on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Explosions, at least one likely caused by a suicide bomber, rocked the Brussels airport and subway system Tuesday, prompting a lockdown of the Belgian capital and heightened security across Europe. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

When you heard about the ISIS attacks on Brussels yesterday, what was your first response? Horror as the crisis unfolded? Grief for the victims? Fear of more attacks? Immediately after your first impressions, did you think something like, “Here we go again”?

If so, you’re like the rest of us. The greatest tragedy of yesterday’s bombings is, of course, the lives lost and city shattered. I have traveled in the beautiful city of Brussels and grieve for what its people are facing today. But another tragedy is that terror attacks have become the “new normal” for so much of the world.

If these bombings had occurred in Syria or Iraq, they would not be headline news. The recent attacks in Turkey and Pakistan also feel to most Americans like something happening “over there.”

But an attack on innocent travelers in Europe hits closer to home. Security is supposed to be better in the Western world. But if people on a subway or entering an airport are not safe, none of us is safe. And that is exactly what the terrorists want us to think. From Paris to Boston to San Bernardino, our enemies have shown us that they can and will attack anyone, anywhere.

Let’s remember again why they hate us. (For more on this issue see my articles, Is Islam a Religion of Violence or Peace? and The Islamic State: What You Need to Know.)

First, radical Muslims are convinced that the West has been attacking Islam since the Crusades and especially by supporting Israel and pro-Western governments in the Middle East. This conviction matters, because the Qur’an requires Muslims to defend Islam from attack (Sura 2:190, 192, for example). But why attack innocent civilians?

Second, radical Muslims believe that there are no “innocent” victims in the West. Our citizens support our governments with their votes and taxes. To ISIS and other terror groups, we are therefore as complicit in this perceived attack on Islam as Germans who supported Hitler. Killing civilians from countries that oppose radical Muslim groups is accepted warfare strategy to jihadists.

Brussels is especially important in this war against the West, because it is the capital of the European Union. Attacking Brussels is symbolically akin to attacking London or Washington, D.C. We can expect similar attacks in other major cities as this conflict continues.

How can Christians help?

I know I say this often, but it is critically true: the ultimate answer to radical Islam is Jesus. The horrific extremism of ISIS and similar groups is driving many Muslims away from Islam and to Christ. In addition, our Lord is appearing to Muslims around the world in visions and dreams, and more than ever before are turning to him.

Every time you hear about radical Islam, pray for radical Muslims to see Jesus and turn to him. Every time. Claim Jesus’ promise that when we ask, seek, and knock, our Father will hear us (Matthew 7:7-8).

This conflict is being fought in airports and on battle fronts, but it will be won on our knees.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

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