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Keir Simmons
61,195 followers -
Correspondent at NBC News... Reporting for NBC Nightly News, Today Show, MSNBC and NBCNews.com
Correspondent at NBC News... Reporting for NBC Nightly News, Today Show, MSNBC and NBCNews.com

61,195 followers
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BRUSSELS : BELGIUM : MARCH 2016 : I’m heading home from Brussels after a tumultuous and at times frightening few weeks. I arrived in the city to cover the arrest of a man allegedly at the center of the Paris massacre. Then came another mass killing.

The Brussels attacks occurred four months after Paris. Four months in which Europe struggled to contain the internal threat from ISIS. It’s intelligence agencies lacking crucial, well, intelligence.

Years of reporting on police investigations taught me to exercise caution when judging from the outside. I’d estimate at least 50% of media stories about a criminal inquiry turn out to be wrong. A former detective tells a journalist details learnt from a police officer on a case. Perhaps they’re misunderstood. Or by the time the details reach the public they’re out of date.

But this week saw a drip feed of damaging revelations. Chief among them, a man arrested and charged with ‘terrorist assassination’ was released days later. His lawyer insisting he looks nothing like the mysterious ‘man in white’ seen at Brussels airport with the two suicide bombers. Today detectives are still searching for that suspect.

It is another blow to Europe, the terrorists striking close to the heart of European government. A continent rocked by years of financial crisis, facing a cliff hanger British vote to exit the union, now looks unable to protect its citizens.

‘Je suis sick of this shit’ was one slogan passed around after more than thirty people died just trying to travel. The sense of defiance seen after November’s Paris attacks appeared to me partially replaced in Brussels by exhaustion, confusion and disillusionment. There were many in Belgium expressing a determination to stay united. But the atmosphere seemed less hopeful than last year in France.

Reading this you may be thinking what I’m thinking. What does this mean for Europe’s future? I don’t know. But once again the continent has been exposed as only as strong as its weakest link. In this case Belgium, with it’s multiple police forces and limited resources for security. Unless Europe can quickly pull together to tackle the ISIS cells that appear to have infiltrated it’s borders then it may not be able to stop another attack.

How will European’s react to that?
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WATCH: How the bombing of a peace rally in Turkey could signal that country's further descent into crisis fuelled by the neighbouring Syrian civil war...

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How to reign for 63 years... An experts guide...

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Even when they are driven our ISIS leaves death behind... READ our latest report from inside Syria...

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UMOUDA : SYRIA : JUL 2015 : Three year old Duaa and her family have taken refuge from ISIS in a Syrian school.
The mother from one of the families here, Um Yousef, 31, who did not want to be identified by her true name, says she spent two weeks in living under ISIS and witnessed them behead a man on a bus. “On the bus was a soldier. When they checked his ID, they beheaded him and put his head on a post on the road, and put his body on the other side of the road." While she was walking in the street, she saw seven sisters, aged twenty to forty, suddenly claimed by ISIS fighters and forcibly taken away. She was threatened with beheading herself unless she covered up properly.
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HASAKAH : SYRIA : JUL 2015 : The battle for this crucial city was in full flow when we arrived. We were told that ISIS was on the defensive and that they leave buildings littered with land mines as they retreat.

Some mines are even shaped like soda bottles, one commander told us, and children pick them up. Whole villages are ghost towns because of it.

The commander says in a few months he has lost more than 10 men trying to defuse the mines.
Other reports say ISIS is trying to use crude chemical weapons. In a nearby street a local told us people couldn't breath when an ISIS mortar landed. One neighbour was taken to hospital.

ISIS may be on the back foot here, but they are fighting back ruthlessly.

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RIVER TIGRIS : SYRIA / IRAQ BORDER : JUL 2015 : Last week we crossed the historic Tigris river and entered Syria. Our journey took us close to the frontline of the fight against ISIS.

We travelled with local Kurds who have formed a democratic army, the YPG. We learned that ISIS is not indestructible, that it doesn't have to be feared. But that politics is getting in the way of what's needed to defeat the Islamic State.

Throughout today I'm gonna post more details about our fascinating journey and the people we met. Only by spending time on the ground do you get the true picture of who ISIS are and who are truly opposing them.

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Reporting live from Athens as Euro negotiations go down to the wire. WATCH:

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A year ago my beautiful twin daughters Ilia and Arianna could say a few words... This morning they woke me up saying, 'Happy dad's day daddy' and 'do you want your present'?

How lucky am I to be a dad. To have the privilege of watching these girls grow and helping where I can.

To be a father is a gift from God. An awesome responsibility. The best job in the world.
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