"It would have been irresponsible not to adopt terror level 4"

The CEO of the Belgian Intelligence Service, Jaak Raes, defends the Belgian decision to lift the terror threat to 4 (for Brussels) a month ago. "It would have been irresponsible to try to stop it. Everyone (in the Belgian National Security Council) knew how concrete the information was about an imminent terror attack," he told De Standaard.

Jaak Raes was in Paris when the attacks there took place. When he found out about the news, there was no link with Belgium. But this would soon change. "I attended the National Security Council and you will understand that the atmosphere was completely different compared to about a year ago, when we had just avoided a terrorist attack by raiding a house in Verviers."

"We had seen Verviers coming, but not this. Even if we knew that Verviers was only the tip of the iceberg", Raes admits. He thinks that the terrorists have "learned" from what went wrong for them in Verviers. The Paris attackers came from various places, while in Verviers they were concentrated in one house.

It also seems as if Paris was planned from outside the city. "I even doubt whether the Paris terrorists al knew each other beforehand." This being said, Raes also wants to put things into perspective, but that doesn't mean we should not stay vigilant in 2016. "We are afraid that so-called sleeper cells could be present in the whole of Western Europe, sleeping terrorist units that can be activated if the authority in Syria calls them."