State Dept. spokesman says Brussels attack 'not about religion,' but ISIS disagrees

by Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)People leave the scene of explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016.

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – A U.S. State Department spokesman has claimed the terror attacks that took place in Brussels March 22 are "not about religion," carrying on the Obama administration's policy of trying to put distance between what it regards as moderate Islam and radical jihadists.

Spokesman John Kirby said during the department's daily briefing that the attacks were carried out by those who follow a "warped and brutal, depraved ideology that continues to be attractive to a small number of people in the Muslim faith – radicals and extremists."

He added that the attacks were not representative of normal Muslims or the Muslim faith. But, he said: "It is a group that remains deadly, remains lethal. And we are going to remain focused on defeating them."

We promise black days for all crusader nations allied in their war against the Islamic State, in response to their aggressions against it, and what is to come will be more devastating and bitter by Allah's permission. Praise is due to Allah for his support and facilitation, and we ask him to accept our brothers among the Shuhada.
- ISIS statement on Brussels attacks

During the busy morning hours at the airport in Brussels and in the underground station, at least three terrorists wearing explosives laden with nails detonated their bombs, killing at least 34 and wounding dozens more.

Almost immediately, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks – and made it clear in a statement that religion was, in fact, central to the entire plot.

The statement was posted on a leading ISIS-affiliated jihadist web forum known as Shumoukh Al-Islam, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported. According to it, the attack was conducted by a "security team of the Caliphate." The target for the attack, the statement said, was "crusader Belgium, which has not ceased to wage war against Islam and its people."

"Allah enabled our brothers and cast fear and terror into the hearts of the crusaders deep in their own lands, where several soldiers of the Caliphate went forth, wearing explosive belts, carrying explosive devices, and armed with automatic rifles, towards specially selected locations in Brussels, the capital of Belgium," the statement said.

The statement also said the attack was meant to kill citizens of other "crusader nations," or nations aligned with the United States in the fight in Syria. It also promised more terror in the near future.

"We promise black days for all crusader nations allied in their war against the Islamic State, in response to their aggressions against it, and what is to come will be more devastating and bitter by Allah's permission. Praise is due to Allah for his support and facilitation, and we ask him to accept our brothers among the Shuhada."

Shuhada is the plural form of the Arabic word "Shaheed," or martyr.

Secretary of State John Kerry avoided commenting on the religious aspects of the terror attack in a brief statement. He called the attacks "abhorrent."

"The U.S. Embassy in Brussels is making every effort to account for the welfare of American citizens in the city, and in the days ahead we stand ready to provide whatever support the Belgian Government may require. As I made clear this morning in a conversation with Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, the United States stands firmly with our ally Belgium and with all of Europe in the face of this tragedy. Attacks like these only deepen our shared resolve to defeat terrorism around the world," Kerry said.