WASHINGTON — Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that Belgian authorities could have thwarted Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Brussels by torturing Salah Abdeslam, the suspected terrorist who was captured days earlier.
Trump argued in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Abdeslam, a suspect in last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris who fled to Belgium, knew of the plot that ISIS-linked terrorists carried out Tuesday and would have talked “a lot faster with the torture.”
“If he would’ve talked you might not have had the blow up — all these people dead and all these people wounded because he probably knew about it,” Trump said. “We have to be smart. I mean it’s hard to believe. We can’t waterboard — listen, nothing’s nice about it, but it’s your minimal form of torture.”
Terrorists killed at least 30 people and wounded about 230 more in Tuesday’s attacks at an airport and metro station on Tuesday in the Belgian capital.
Trump has argued that he would authorize waterboarding and “far worse” forms of torture against suspected terrorists as president after first broadening existing laws banning torture.
“We have to change our laws and we have to be able to fight on an almost equal basis,” Trump said Tuesday arguing in favor of torture and pointing to ISIS’ far more brutal treatment of its prisoners.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Tuesday it was too early to tell whether there was a link between Abdeslam and Tuesday’s attacks, though two senior U.S. officials told CNN they believe the Brussels attack was carried out by the same terrorist network to which Abdeslam belonged.
Trump argued not only that Abdeslam knew of the planned attack, but that it was most likely “an act of retribution” for Abdeslam’s capture.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, but did not suggest that it was retribution for Abdeslam’s capture days earlier.