George Diepenbrock
KU News Service

Media advisory: KU researchers can discuss Brussels attacks

Tue, 03/22/2016

LAWRENCE — The deadly attacks in Belgium were possibly a move by Islamic State terrorists before more arrests could disrupt its European network and the violence could have far-reaching implications for the European Union, University of Kansas researchers said.

Faculty members who study terrorism and European politics are available to speak on the Brussels attacks.

Don Haider-Markel, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, can speak about terrorism tactics of the Islamic State, in particular last week's arrest of one suspect in the November Paris attacks. His research includes terrorism, extremist groups, public policy and American politics. He has been featured on CNN, the Washington Post and the Christian Science Monitor as well as other international news outlets.

"The attacks are likely directly related to the arrest last week. There is some indication that authorities were expecting attacks, which is part of the reason they were eager to make arrests, but even if these attacks had not been fully planned by last week the disruption of this network likely drove some of the actors to go ahead with existing plans before the network could be disrupted more," Haider-Markel said. "Given the evidence uncovered last week, the network already had bomb vests and firearms in place to carry out the types of attacks committed today, and the targets themselves were relatively soft for a suicide-style attack, which decreased the need for a lot of operational planning. The attacks are consistent with the capabilities that Islamic State has demonstrated in Europe over the past several months."

Robert Rohrschneider, the Sir Robert Worcester Distinguished Professor of Political Science, has written about political skepticism toward European Union membership and the potential influence nationalism could have after the recent financial and migration crises. Rohrschneider can discuss the political implications of the Brussels attacks, particularly because one bomb detonated at a subway station near EU headquarters.

"To strike in the heart of Brussels and the airport means that terrorists want to signal their capacity to wreak havoc at the center of Europe,” Rohrschneider said. "The Brussels attacks will further erode the will among European publics to support political integration. They will also strengthen the 'Brexit' camp in the United Kingdom that advocates to vote leaving the EU in the upcoming referendum on June 23.”

To arrange an interview with Haider-Markel or Rohrschneider, contact George Diepenbrock at 785-864-8853 or

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