A series of deadly explosions ripped through the Brussels airport and a subway station in the heart of the city Tuesday morning. The death toll continues to mount — it stood at 34 dead, more than 170 wounded as of this writing — and in the immediate aftermath of the bombings, little other information had yet emerged about the attacks.
The lack of immediately available information did not deter Republican frontrunner Donald Trump from tying the Brussels bombings to the Paris attacks, and the Paris attacks to illegal immigration first thing Tuesday morning. Trump suggested America is vulnerable to a similar attack unless the country moves swiftly to enact his plans to build a wall along the Mexican border and bar Muslims from entering the country indefinitely.
Trump made his case in phone calls to both Fox & Friends and Good Morning America just hours after the attacks.
— FOX & Friends (@foxandfriends) March 22, 2016
“Brussels is an amazing example: Brussels was an absolutely crime-free city, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and now you look at it, it’s a disaster,” Trump said on the Fox morning show. “Those countries better get smart face because they’re just disintegrating. I have friends who live in Brussels, they say the place is literally disintegrating.”
Trump went on to issue an ominous warning: “This is just the beginning. It’s just going to get worse and worse because we are lax and we are foolish. We are foolish. At this point we cannot allow these people to come into the country. We are allowing thousands and thousands of people to come into our country and we don’t even know where they come from and who they are. We have to be very careful. We’re not babies. We can’t do this anymore. We can’t have these attacks any more. We can’t have World Trade Centers anymore and planes flying into the Pentagon. It’s time to be smart. It’s time to look carefully,” he said.
Asked by Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos what he would do if he were in sitting in the Oval Office today, Trump answered, “We would strengthen up our borders; we would be very careful who we allow into our country…. We’re taking people we have no idea where they are coming from, who they are, where they were. We have people coming in with no documentation into our country and they could be ISIS, you don’t know. You have no idea where they are are coming from.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 22, 2016
Seeming to undermine his own argument that lax immigration laws are to blame, Trump immediately added that Salah Abdeslam, the Belgian citizen arrested yesterday for his connection to the Paris attacks, grew up in Brussels: “One of the most disturbing things is the man that was caught, yesterday — and this is retaliation for that — the man that was caught yesterday was living right where he grew up, he was living in the neighborhood, everyone knew he was there and they never turned him in.”
In fact, only one of the 11 attackers involved in the Paris attacks is believed to have arrived in Europe posing as a Syrian refugee. The rest grew up in France and Belgium.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton also spoke to Good Morning America Tuesday, by phone. Clinton emphasized the need for the United States to work with partners in the region to effectively dismantle ISIS.