UNC professor angry over Brussels terrorist attacks
Posted March 23, 2016
Chapel Hill, N.C. — As Flora Cassen tries to get over the shock of Tuesday's terrorist attacks in her native Brussels, she can't shake the anger and frustration that Belgian authorities couldn't prevent it.
"The police forces there seem to be always a step behind," said Cassen, who moved to the U.S. 16 years ago to pursue a doctoral degree and is now a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "It seems like they’ve been saying for months, 'We’re expecting this, we’re expecting this,' and yet they couldn’t prevent it."
Cassen ticked off a list of terrorist activities in and around Belgium: an attack at a Jewish museum in Brussels in May 2014, the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris in January 2015, a failed attack on a train from Brussels to Paris last August and the bombings and shootings in Paris in November.
"Now we’re hearing they knew of all the people, and there’s only one airport in the country – it’s a small country – so why couldn’t they? It’s such an obvious target," she said. "It appears to be all the same people that they’re all connected doing those things. They’re doing it again and again and again, and it doesn’t seem to be an end to it. So, that’s scary."
Cassen said she had to force herself to stop watching news about the Brussels attacks, even though she is desperate for any information she can get.
"It's kind of a feeling of unreal – how can this be happening? – and shock," she said. "Everything was chaotic, and not being able to help that is hard."
She said she's grateful for the emotional support pouring in to Belgium from around the globe.