How Belgium Used Cats to Fight Terrorism…Sort Of

Cats: they do a lot for us. They kill our mice. They wake us up 10 minutes before our alarm’s supposed to go off. And now they fight terrorism. Or at least our obsession with cats helps fight terrorism.

As Belgium launched several counter-terrorism operations this weekend, the Police Federale requested communications silence from citizens in their capital of Brussels. Yet there were still those who took photos of ongoing operations and posted them on Twitter with the hashtag #BrusselsLockdown.

Belgian citizens began to flood this and similar hashtags with cat memes. It was an attempt to bury any useful intelligence from being easily recognizable on Twitter. Anyone looking to glean information about what the Federal Police were doing would have to sift through thousands of cat memes to do so.

It’s also an example of a country maintaining its humor in dire circumstances. By Monday, schools and public transit remained closed. Authorities continued conducting operations to curtail what they called a “serious and imminent threat.”

Instead of police movements, Twitter showed storm troopers riding hovercats, kitty snipers, and a surprising number of cats licking beer bottles.



It’s amusing, it’s useful, and it may also be one of the strongest weapons citizens themselves have in fighting terrorism. After all, what is the goal of terrorism but to make us live in and act out of fear? Letting terrorist organizations like ISIS influence how we conduct our lives already gives them power to change who we are. So fight back with cats and whatever else works to keep our own lives our own. Cats included. As a thank you, the Belgian federal police tweeted back their own thank you: a giant bowl of cat food.



Would you do the same thing, or would you be glued to the news? Would you post images of an ongoing operation, or hunker down with your favorite cat memes?

Additional images: Discovery



Gabriel Valdez
Gabriel Valdez
Gabriel is a movie critic who's been a campaign manager in Oregon, an investigative reporter in Texas, and a film producer in Massachusetts. His writing was named best North American criticism of 2014 by the Local Media Association. He's assembled a band of writers who focus on social issues in film. They have a home base.