News Tip: With Brussels Attack, ISIS Hoping to Provoke Overreaction Against Muslim Community, Expert Says

Counterterrorism expert Timothy Nichols outlines likely actions of the government in Brussels 

Counterterrorism expert Timothy Nichols outlines likely actions of the government in Brussels in response to Tuesday’s attacks. • Quotes: “The likely purpose of the attack is twofold: First, to erode the confidence of the citizens in their government’s ability to protect them; secondly, to provoke an overreaction against the Muslim community that would consequentially ‘push’ moderate Muslims toward ISIS in both support and operations,” says Timothy Nichols, executive director of the Counterterrorism and Public Policy Fellowship Program at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.  “Since ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, the government can now refine its investigation to unearth the network that harbored, supported, facilitated and perpetrated the attack. If the attack is, in fact, in retaliation for the capture of the suspected Paris attacker, then ISIS has expanded its operating area and bolstered the growing opposition to its violent extremist behavior.” “In response to this attack, the government in Brussels is likely conducting three concurrent activities. First, they are seeking to determine whether further attacks are imminent -- unexploded devices, attacks against casualty centers, etc. Second, they are providing ‘consequence management’ activities to attend to the victims and restore basic services. Finally, they are undertaking a thorough investigation to determine the perpetrators, tradecraft and motivation for this horrific attack.”  “If past is prologue, the leadership in Brussels will have a much more refined understanding of the incident within a week. With the proliferation of video monitors, the interview of bystanders and the potential for claims of responsibility, these sources of information will soon shed light on the incident, the motive and the actual culprit or culprits to include those who participated in suicide detonations.” • Bio:Timothy Nichols, visiting professor of the practice of public policy at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy, is executive director of the Counterterrorism and National Security Fellow Program. He served as an intelligence officer in the Marine Corp with experience in special operations and counterterrorism. He can discuss interagency coordination, national security, homeland security and counterterrorism policy. • For additional comment, contact Nichols