FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
March 22, 2016
Carl Court/Getty Images

Brussels was rocked Tuesday by a series of terrorist bombings at transportation hubs that killed at least 34 people. But, following the Paris terror attacks last November, security experts had warned that Europe would be particularly vulnerable to additional assaults from the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, as the civil war in Syria rages and the subsequent refugee crisis continues to bring waves of undocumented people across borders and into Europe.

But "few countries have been more vulnerable than Belgium," The New York Times reports. Indeed, the small country wedged among Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and France has been increasingly used by terrorist groups for recruiting and support networks. And, compared to its neighbors, Belgium has produced a disproportionate number of jihadists who go on to fight for ISIS.

"At this point, Belgium is, per capita, by far the European nation contributing the most to the foreign element in the Syrian War," said Belgian Arabist and author Pieter van Ostaeyen. Such extremists are able to live in and be protected by Brussel's insular Muslim community in Molenbeek, one of 19 municipalities in the capital.

In fact, Molenbeek has been linked to radicals behind several terrorist attacks, including the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the Jewish Museum attack in Brussels in May 2014, and the Paris attacks in November 2015. The last surviving suspected Paris attacker, Salah Abdeslam, was captured on March 18 in a Molenbeek hideout after a four-month manhunt.

One of the major soft spots for Belgium is its fractured security. Brussels, which is a relatively small city of 1.2 million, has six different police departments. By comparison, New York City, home to 8 million people, has one united police department. That Molenbeek is seemingly immune to counterterrorism efforts is both a "social and political failure," experts have said. Lauren Hansen

1:03 p.m. ET

Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama departed Washington, D.C., on Friday, following the inauguration ceremony of President Donald Trump. After posing for a final picture with the new president and first lady Melania Trump on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, the Obamas boarded the Executive One helicopter — formerly Marine One — and prepared to depart Washington after eight years in the nation's capital.

The Obamas are headed to Palm Springs, California, for a post-presidency retreat with their two daughters Sasha and Malia. Watch the former president and first lady fly away from Washington below. Kimberly Alters

1:01 p.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Even President Donald Trump's critics are happy to admit that things were at least peaceful Friday during the inauguration. Despite the fact that there are many other democratic nations around the world that do this exact same thing, Americans patted themselves on the back for once again not having a coup:

Not everyone is so impressed: "There is something unnerving about these reassurances, something overstated, even hysterical," writes The Atlantic's David Frum.

When a British prime minister loses the confidence of the House of Commons and must suddenly trundle out of 10 Downing Street (as some six dozen of them have done since the job was invented in the 1740s; a few more than once), nobody marvels on television how wonderful it is that he or she doesn't try to retain power by force of arms. Nobody in Denmark thinks it extraordinary when one party relinquishes power to another. Ditto New Zealand or Switzerland — all of them treat peaceful transfers of power as the developed world norm, like reliable electricity or potable water. [The Atlantic]

Read his entire evaluation here. Jeva Lange

12:39 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump was sworn into office Friday in Washington, D.C., and after being administered the presidential oath by Chief Justice John Roberts he delivered his inaugural address to the nation. Standing on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Building, Trump struck a populist tone reminiscent of the themes of his campaign. "This moment is your moment. It belongs to you," he said. "Jan. 20, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again."

Trump lamented the state of U.S. education and manufacturing while sending a nationalist economic message, saying, "Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength." He also echoed his campaign slogan, promising that America would "start winning again — winning like never before," and he vowed to bring jobs and wealth back to the U.S.:

Standing in front of a dais full of elected officials, Trump criticized do-nothing politicians while simultaneously calling for unity around his movement. But observers noted his speech was notably angry for an inaugural address, which new presidents typically use to espouse themes of hope and bipartisanship:

Trump also called the state of gangs and drugs in the nation akin to "American carnage." But "that was the past. Now, we are looking only to the future," Trump said. "From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only: America first." Kimberly Alters

12:22 p.m. ET

Moments after he was sworn into office, President Donald Trump declared Jan. 20, 2017, his Inauguration Day, "the day the people became the rulers of this nation again." Reviving the populist themes of his presidential campaign in his inaugural address, Trump said, "The forgotten people of this country will be forgotten no longer."

Trump declared that what "truly matters" is not whether the government is controlled by the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, but by "the people." The nation, Trump said, exists to "serve its people." Becca Stanek

12:20 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump painted an apocalyptic picture of the United States during his inaugural address, describing factories "scattered like tombstones across the land" and the ravages of "drugs" and "gangs."

"This American carnage stops right here and stops right now," Trump vowed.

If you had been mulling over "American carnage" for a band name, you're going to want to get on that pretty quick. Jeva Lange

12:10 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump vowed to "rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people" in his first words after being sworn in as commander-in-chief.

Trump stressed that "we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people."

"This is your country," Trump said. "What truly matters is not what party controls the government, but if our government is controlled by the people." Trump additionally thanked former President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama for their "gracious aid throughout this transition." Jeva Lange

12:09 p.m. ET

Both President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence have now officially been sworn in as the United States' president and vice president, respectively. Watch Trump and Pence take their official oaths of office below. Becca Stanek

See More Speed Reads