Rukmini Callimachi - @rcallimachi (@nytimes Correspondent) Is Tweeting About #brusselsattacks

  1. 1. I will be Tweeting some thoughts on the #Brussels attack here for those of you that want to join me.
  2. 2. The news out of Brussels is grim: At least two back-to-back explosions at the well-guarded airport, and at least one at a train station
  3. 3. Death toll is still preliminary but I fear damage is significant. If nothing else extremists succeeded in penetrating best guarded venue
  4. 4. As far as civilian targets, I can't think of anything that is better guarded than an airport and yet that's where these bombs went off
  5. 5. As of 11:03 am EST, no claim of responsibility on either Al Qaeda or ISIS' official channels, though boosters of both are cheering
  6. 6. That's not unusual: Took more than a day to get ISIS' claim post Nov 13; and several days for AQAP to claim Charlie Hebdo
  7. 7. But here's where I want us to be careful: In March 2015, ISIS released interview in its French language magazine with Boubaker Al-Hakim
  8. 8. For those who don't know, Hakim is considered the "godfather" of the French jihadi scene. He has been a mentor to generations of youths
  9. 9. In that interview Hakim clearly states that ISIS fighters should abandon the symbolism that was typically associated with Qaeda attacks
  10. 10. He urges them to hit soft targets - the softer the better. And immediately after we see Abaaoud's cell is trying to hit trains/concerts
  11. 11. The train station hit this morning is in keeping with this philosophy. But the airport? It goes against that advice
  12. 12. Unless of course ISIS figured out what many travelers have remarked: Anyone can get into the check in concourse. Checks begin at Xray
  13. 14. A priori an airport is a much more Al Qaeda-like target. Still it's hard to imagine that AQ would have moved in on Brussels, which
  14. 15. Has been an ISIS hotbed since 2011/2012. More jihadists per capita have gone to Syria from Belgium than from any other European country
  15. 16. Also remember that in the story I just reported, Abaaoud claimed that he had entered Europe via refugee stream with 90 other jihadists.
  16. 18. While that number may be exaggerated, we know there were at least 30: 10 directly involved as attackers on 11/13 and 20 more arrested
  17. 19. So overall my point now is we have many reasons to believe this is ISIS, but let's not rule out Al Qaeda. And on that note notice
  18. 20. How both ISIS & Qaeda boosters are claiming attack. Below is screenshot of ISIS channel asking ppl to Tweet:
  19. 21. And here is a pro-Qaeda channel claiming Brussels as part of a line of attacks by Qaeda in Africa:
  20. 22. And on cue, we now have a claim from ISIS: The Amaq News Agency has claimed that ISIS fighters detonated their vests at airport &station
  21. 23. Recall Amaq is basically ISIS' wire service and months now they have been first to claim major attacks
  22. 24. The Amaq claim was disseminated on its own Telegram channel and then picked up by the official Telegram channels of the terror group
  23. 25. Interestingly: ISIS is getting much faster at claiming its attacks in the West. Post-Paris we waited an entire day
  24. 26. ISIS is now advising its "brothers" in Belgium to only go online with encryption. (Thanks @MichaelSSmithII)
  25. 27. ISIS has now moved from semi official news agency Amaq to its Khilafa Channel & is posting the claim in French
  26. 28. It's important to note that the chain of custody on the ISIS claim of responsibility follows their usual playbook: (1) Release on Amaq
  27. 29. Amaq is their semi official news agency which acts like a kind of ISIS "Associated Press wire," getting out news in neutral language
  28. 30. Notice that in the Amaq release they referred to "Islamic State fighters." Next is a release via ISIS' official channels, among them
  29. 31. Khilafa News. The official release switches back to their usual lingo. The attackers are "Soldiers of the Caliphate." Belgium= Crusader
  30. 32. Official release is in multiple languages &appears on their blue-and-red logo. Was disseminated 1st on Telegram
  31. 33. Also Belgian police have confirmed the 3 men below are suspects and are asking public's help to ID man with hat
  32. 34. Notice that men on left both are wearing a single glove. No one knows for sure but there is speculation this might be to cover detonator
  33. 35. In the 55-page police report on the Paris attacks witnesses saw Paris attackers holding something in their hand, assumed to be detonator
  34. 36. At one location a button believed to be part of detonation mechanism was found, as were 9V batteries, wires, and scotch tape
  35. 37. Paris witnesses described detonation mechanism as being an object held in one's hand with cord that travelled to suicide belt.
  36. 38. ISIS' channel is now asking supporters to flood Twitter using hashtags they created to cheer Brussels attack
  37. 39. In wake of Paris attack, ISIS put out an essay explaining how they had turned propaganda particularly on Twitter as an instrument of war
  38. 40. So basically, ISIS' gives equal value to a Kalashnikov, a suicide belt and a Twitter hashtag
  39. 41. ISIS is now promoting pictures showing fighters handing out sweets in Syria to celebrate Brussels attack (Source: @siteintelgroup )
  40. 42. Latest from AFP quotes officials saying bombs were in attackers' suitcases. This explains why the blast was visibly stronger than Paris
  41. 43. In Paris, bombs were in suicide belts which can hold roughly 1 pound of TATP. A suitcase can hold 100 pounds or more.
  42. 44 As someone who has frequently been flagged for overweight luggage, I can say with certainty bag 3rd suspect is carrying can hold 100+ lbs
  43. 45. Sidenote: I will be on Charlie Rose shortly discussing Brussels and editors are putting out my analysis on photo of bombers/explosives