Belgian Breeding Ground Fuels New Terror Wave

belgiumby Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
November 23, 2015

Time was, thoughts of Belgium led to thoughts of rich, dark chocolate, of Old Master painters and delicate, handmade lace.

Now it brings a different image: of Islamic jihad and men armed with Kalashnikovs, and of secret meetings of Muslim youth plotting a new attack against the West. The country is in lockdown today, facing what authorities believe is an “imminent attack.” On Sunday, police raided 19 homes in and around Brussels, and made 16 arrests. Brussels continues to be the focus of their action.

There is good reason for this. The Nov. 13 massacres in Paris, we’ve since learned, were planned in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, sometimes called “little Morocco” for its large Moroccan immigrant population. The attack on Charlie Hebdo also was planned there, along with the foiled attack on a Thalys high-speed train between Brussels and Amsterdam. Mehdi Nemmouche, who killed four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum in May 2014, spent time there.

But it isn’t only Molenbeek, and it isn’t only recently. Belgium has been a hotbed of radical Islam for more than a decade, breeding organizations like Sharia4Belgium – one of the most influential “Sharia4” groups globally – and the now-defunct Arab European League (AEL). The goal of the AEL, founded by the Lebanese-Belgian Dyab Abou Jahjah in 2001, was to form a “sharocracy” in which sharia and democracy ruled together across the West. The organization was based in Antwerp, where Jahjah and his friends also celebrated the attacks of 9/11 with laughter. “We couldn’t hold our joy,” he recalled later in his autobiography.

Other signs of radicalism, also connected to Jahjah, soon followed; in 2002, Jahjah helped orchestrate riots in Borgenhout, outside of Antwerp. And in 2004, after establishing a Dutch arm of the AEL, he declared, “I consider every death of an American, British, and Dutch soldier a victory.”

Jahjah was hardly alone. By 2006, Belgian journalist Hind Fraihi, herself a Muslim, discovered that books teaching Muslims to fight infidels were being freely distributed by radical imams who preached jihad in local mosques. Other books she found in Belgium included Guide For Muslims, a Dutch publication that encourages Muslims to throw homosexuals from tall buildings and to beat their wives. A Washington Post profile of Fraihi cited other books she found, including some that “advised readers to learn to communicate in symbols and secret code, and offered tips on how to do that.”

But the largest influence on Belgian Muslims, and the source of much of their extremism, was the creation of Sharia4Belgium in 2010. Thanks to that group, Belgium boasts the largest number of Muslims per capita who have joined the Islamic State and its jihad. According to the Wall Street Journal and others, “dozens” of Sharia4Belgium members have made the pilgrimage to Syria, and dozens more have been detained before they could make the trip. Three of them, all women, were arrested in May 2014, around the time of the Jewish Museum shooting. They were part of a larger group of 40 Belgians planning to join the jihad, and most of them had Sharia4Belgium ties.

This should not have been surprising. By 2012, Belgium’s security service director Alain Winants determined that “radical Islam forms the greatest threat” to the country. Salafism, he told Belgian daily de Morgen, is gaining followers who have built up a parallel community with its own values, its own banks, justice system, and educational program.

Sharia4Belgium’s founder, Fouad Belkacem, was tried and convicted in September 2014 for supporting terrorism, along with dozens of other Sharia4Belgium members, some of whom are still on the Syrian battlefields. But by then it was too late. The group, with its active Dutch- and French-speaking recruiters in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and – most of all – the Internet, had already infiltrated the minds of untold numbers of other Belgian youth.

And still, no one seems to be watching.

This is due in part to limits of Belgium’s intelligence facilities. While German intelligence, for instance, is currently stretched to its limits trying to track potential terrorists, Der Spiegel reports that Belgium’s threat has long since exceeded the its own intelligence capabilities.

Indeed, according to Dutch NOS TV, “the central counterterrorism unit of the [Belgian] police department has only one employee tracking radical [Islamic] activity on the Internet. And she only works part time.” The result, notes Der Spiegel, is that “many Muslims who have become radicalized or received military training and may even have been traumatized are returning home from Syria without anyone checking on them whatsoever.”

Moreover, Belgium’s disorganized police system – with six authorities for 19 districts in Brussels alone – coupled with a chaotic government and the European capital’s convenient location at the midway point between Amsterdam and Paris –combine to help French and Dutch Islamists take refuge there. Two of the Paris attackers, the French-born Bilal Hafdi and Brahim Abdelslam, were among them.

As recently as last month, an exploratory committee determined that Belgian police had failed to notice, let alone monitor, a “jihad camp” set up by Kurdish PKK members and Sharia4Belgium in the Ardennes.

But the truth is, the country’s “capabilities” are only part of the problem: political timidity and correctness carry a good share of the blame. Suspicious behaviors are too often overlooked for fear of being called “racist,” Alain Winants told de Morgen in 2012. That viewpoint has since been echoed in Belgian editorials since the Paris attacks, with journalist Luckas Vander Taelen noting that Molenbeek’s mayor had once called a journalist “Islamophobic” for reporting on the radical Islamic books being distributed there. “There are no problems here,” the mayor insisted at the time.

Since the Nov. 13 attacks, however, Belgium has rounded up dozens of jihadists, with nine raids leading to nine arrests on Thursday preceding Sunday’s additional raids. The speed with which these terrorists were located suggests that authorities were aware of them prior to the events in Paris. So why weren’t they captured earlier? Was it a matter of incompetence? Or a kind of narcissistic concern over image, a fear, as Winants suggests, of being seen as “racist?”

Hopefully, Belgium has now learned its lesson. The fight against terrorism is not a popularity contest. It’s a contest we fight for our lives.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

Jihadists killed in Belgian terror swoop were inspired by the murder of Lee Rigby and planned to kidnap a policeman and decapitate him in the street

Belgium terrorists

  • Belgium’s ministry of justice said a ‘second Paris (attack) has been avoided’ after police smash Islamic terror cell 
  • ISIS cell planned to film horrific murder of policeman or judge and circulate the footage online, police sources said
  • Belgian prosecutor says extremists were inspired by murder of Lee Rigby on the streets of Woolwich in 2013
  • Commandos killed two suspected Islamic State jihadists and arrest a third in swoop in eastern town of Verviers
  • Dead suspects believed to be Redouane Hagaoui (Abu Khalid Al Maghribi) and Tarik Jadaoun (Abu Hamza Belgiki) 
  • Terror cell was ‘equipped with Belgian police uniforms, four Kalashnikov machine guns, handguns and explosives’
  • Dozens of simultaneous raids across country were ‘triggered by return of terror kingpin from abroad to Verviers’
  • Some cell members were not at home and could now be at large, source close to the investigation told MailOnline 

The Belgian terror cell who planned to behead a policeman in the street in ‘a second Paris’ attack were inspired by the murder of fusilier Lee Rigby two years ago, the lead investigator has revealed.

Federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt, who coordinated a series of raids on 12 alleged terrorist hideouts across Belgium told Mail Online: ‘Their plan was to launch attacks similar to that in London when a soldier was killed. They wanted to kill policeman on the street .’

The radical Islamic group also wanted to film the horrific murder and then circulate the footage online, bringing the brutality of ISIS to the West, police sources said.

Fusilier Rigby was brutally murdered on the streets of Woolwich in March 2013 by extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale who forced a passer-by to record the aftermath. They are currently serving life in jail for the killing.

Two members of the Belgian terror cell were gunned down by armed officers in Verviers overnight, while a third was overpowered after being wounded.

The group was reportedly equipped with Belgian police uniforms, four Kalashnikov machine guns, handguns and explosives. Another part of their twisted plot included taking a number of hostages by seizing a bus, it was reported by Belgium’s RTL broadcaster.

In total 13 people were arrested in last night’s raids, according to Mr Van der Sypt, but he could not rule out the possibility that others were still at large. He said: ‘As with any investigation of this kind you cannot rule out that there are members that are unaccounted for.’

The dead suspects are believed to be Redouane Hagaoui, 22, also known as Abu Khalid Al Maghribi, and Tarik Jadaoun, who has the alias Abu Hamza Belgiki.

Read more

Published on Jan 16, 2015 by AlohaSnackbar01

Also see:

Raid on Belgian terror cell confirms threat

verviersWND, by Aaron Klein, Jan. 15, 2015:

Two people were killed in a raid on suspected Islamic radicals Thursday in the Belgian town of Verviers, according to local media.

The raid comes three days after WND exclusively reported there are at least 20 sleeper cells with a combined total of 120 to 180 jihadists ready to act in France, Germany and Belgium.

WND further reported two days later that intelligence information collected by European and Arab countries indicates there is a specific threat against Belgium.

Local officials Thursday said two people have been killed in an anti-terror operation in eastern Belgium.

The BBC is quoting a Belgian TV station saying a third person was wounded in the raid in the town of Verviers and that several arrests were made.

The Agence-France Presse news agency quoted a source in the mayor’s office stating “an operation is under way.” Another official said the raid was “jihadist-related.”

According to unconfirmed reports, raids were taking place elsewhere in Belgium.

As WND reported, chatter within jihadist groups combined with intelligence information collected by European and Arab countries indicates the next major terrorist attack may target the Netherlands or Belgium, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND.

The security officials said a joint effort between European and Arab security services has resulted in the drafting of a list of hundreds of names of potential jihadists, mostly European residents, who could be a part of a series of sleeper cells in Europe. There is an effort to track down the locations of the suspects.

The officials said the list also includes more than 100 suspects who are originally from Chechnya as well as foreign suspects from Palestinian camps in Syria and Lebanon, some of whom may currently be in Europe.

On Tuesday, WND reported Algeria’s intelligence services passed information to several European countries indicating there are at least 20 sleeper cells with a combined total of 120 to 180 jihadists ready to act in France, Germany and Belgium.

Many members of the cells were trained in Tunisia, according to an Algerian intelligence report that was shared with WND by a European official. The report was provided to European interior ministers.

The document also deals with the issue of European citizens traveling to Iraq and Syria to join Islamic terrorist organizations. The Algerian report fingers Saudi-financed mosques in Europe as helping to lead the recruitment of European jihadists to fight in Syria and Iraq.

The Algerians identified by name more than 100 clerics in Western Europe as leaders of the recruitment campaign, which the Algerian report says is coordinated with Salafists mostly located in Tunisia, Yemen and Libya.

Earlier this week, French law enforcement officers were directed to carry their weapons at all times “because terror sleeper cells have been activated over the last 24 hours in the country,” according to a French police source who attended a briefing Saturday and spoke to CNN terror analyst Samuel Laurent.

Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist suspect killed last Friday after holding citizens hostage in a kosher market in Paris, made phone calls about targeting police officers in France, the source told CNN.

Hostages inside the market also reported hearing Coulibaly speaking on the phone about the targeting of police officers in France.

According to reports, the hostages said Coulibaly told them “militants are going to come – there are going to be more and more.”

According to reports, the hostages said Coulibaly told them that “militants are going to come.”

“There are going to be more and more.”


Published on Jan 15, 2015 by AlohaSnackbar01

BRUSSELS—Belgian security forces killed two terror suspects with links to Syria in a fierce shootout in the eastern city of Verviers on Thursday and arrested another, foiling a major and imminent attack against police buildings, authorities said.

New ‘Charlie Hebdo’ averted: Belgian police say raid kills 2 ISIS-linked jihadists

Belgian anti-terror police on the streets of Colline Street in Verviers, east Belgium, after an anti-terrorist operation there reportedly led to the deaths of up to three suspected jihadists freshly back from Syria

Belgian anti-terror police on the streets of Colline Street in Verviers, east Belgium, after an anti-terrorist operation there reportedly led to the deaths of up to three suspected jihadists freshly back from Syria

Fox News, January 15, 2015

Police stopped a “Belgian Charlie Hebdo” late Thursday, with government agents killing at least two in raids aimed at jihadists returning from Syria who were planning to launch terrorist attacks “on a grand scale,” according to police and prosecutors.

The raids included one on an apartment above a bakery in the eastern city of Verviers, authorities said. They said no officers were injured and that the suspects opened fire on them as the swooped in. Authorities said the terror cell had ties to ISIS and was planning a major attack.

“We’ve averted a Belgian Charlie Hebdo,” an unidentified police officer told La Meuse.

It was not known if the suspects in Belgium had direct links to the terror cell that carried out last week’s attacks in Paris. But much of Europe is deeply concerned about homegrown jihadists sympatizers – and passport holders – who are returning battle-hardened from Iraq and Syria. Thursday’s raids came as a man suspected of selling guns used in last week’s terror attacks in France was being detained in another part of the country.

“We’ve averted a Belgian CharlieHebdo.”- Belgian police officer

Magistrate Eric Van der Sypt told reporters in Brussels the suspects were on the verge of committing a major terrorist attack. He said at emergency news conference that anti-terrorist raids are underway in the Brussels region and Verviers and that Belgium’s terror alert level was raised to its second highest level. The raids were part of an investigation into extremists returning from Syria.

Belgian public television channel RTBF reported that the public prosecutor’s office confirmed the deaths of two suspects and arrests of “several” more. Federal prosecutors were quoted as saying there had been a police operation aimed at jihadists who have returned from the Middle East to the city of 55,000, some 70 miles from Brussels.

Explosions and gunfire were apparently heard near the station, according to Belgium’s public broadcaster RTBF. The Belga news agency said there were several casualties and police activity was continuing. Another official told the agency it was “jihadist-related” and a news conference was scheduled for 8 p.m. local time.

Earlier, Reuters reported that Belgian authorities detained a man for arms dealing and are investigating whether he supplied one of the Islamist gunmen involved in the attacks in Paris, including a raid on the headquarters of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a separate siege at a Jewish supermarket two days later. A total of 17 victims and three terrorists were killed in the events.

Belgian media reported that the suspect turned himself in in the southern city of Charleroi on Tuesday, saying he had been in touch with Amedy Coulibaly, the behind the supermarket attack.

According to the reports, the man said that he swindled Coulibaly in a car sale, but police later found evidence that the two were negotiating about the sale of ammunition for a 7.62 mm caliber firearm.

“The man is being held by the judge in Charleroi on suspicion of arms dealing,” a spokesman for Belgium’s federal prosecution said. “Further investigations will have to show whether there is a link with the events in Paris,” he added.

It was not known if the raid in Belgium was directly related to recent events in France, but the nations share a 385-mile border and are close culturally and politically.On Sunday, the offices of Belgian newspaper Le Soir, a French-language publication that published caricatures of Prophet Muhammad to show solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, were evacuated after a bomb threat. Also on Sunday, thousands marched through Brussels to show support for the French tabloid which was targeted by a pair of radicalized brothers because of its penchant for publishing images of Islam’s prophet.

A German tabloid that reprinted caricatures of Muhammad was firebombed on Sunday. But Charlie Hebdo came out with a new issue on Wednesday, with a caricature of Muhammad on the cover under the title “Tout est pardonne,” or “All is forgiven.”

Published on Jan 15, 2015 by Truth Revolt

The Islamization of Belgium and the Netherlands in 2013

Belgian Salafisrby Soeren Kern:

In January, the gangland shootings of two young Moroccan men in downtown Amsterdam drew renewed attention to the growing problem of violent crime among Muslim immigrants. The two men were gunned down with AK-47 assault rifles in a shooting the mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, described as reminiscent of “the Wild West.”

In March, the Dutch public broadcasting system NOS television reported that the Netherlands has become one of the major European suppliers of Islamic jihadists. According to NOS, about 100 Dutch Muslims are active as jihadists in Syria; most have joined the notorious Jabhat al-Nusra rebel group.

Belgium and the Netherlands have some of the largest Muslim communities in the European Union, in percentage terms.

Belgium is home to an estimated 650,000 Muslims, or around 6% of the overall population, based on an average of several statistical estimates. The Netherlands is home to an estimated 925,000 Muslims, which also works out to around 6% of the overall population. Within the EU, only France (7.5%) has more Muslims in relative terms.

Belgian and Dutch cities have significant Muslim populations, comprised mostly of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants, as well as a growing number of converts to Islam.

The number of Muslims in Brussels—where roughly half of the number of Muslims in Belgium currently live—has reached 300,000, which means that the self-styled “Capital of Europe” is now one of the most Islamic cities in Europe.

In 2013, Muslims made up approximately 26% of the population of metropolitan Brussels, followed by Rotterdam (25%), Amsterdam (24%), Antwerp (17%), The Hague (14%) and Utrecht (13%), according to a panoply of research.

Not coincidentally, Belgium and the Netherlands have been at the forefront of the debate over Muslim immigration and integration in Europe. What follows is a chronological summary of some of the main stories about the rise of Islam in Belgium and the Netherlands during 2013.

In January, the Belgian branch of the Dutch department store chain HEMA lost a wrongful termination lawsuitfiled by a Muslim shop assistant whose contract was not renewed because she refused to stop wearing a hijab, the traditional Islamic headscarf.

The woman, a Belgian convert to Islam, had been employed as temporary sales staff for two months, during which time she wore the hijab at work. But when customers complained, the store manager asked her to remove the headscarf.

After she refused to comply, HEMA declined to extend her contract in sales, but did offer her an alternative job in its warehouse, where she would not have direct contact with clients. She said the alternative job offer was unsatisfactory and then consulted a lawyer.

Lawyers defending the Belgian shop said that to maintain the “neutral and discreet image of HEMA, the shop did not want employees wearing any kind of religious symbols.”

But a labor court in the nearby Belgian city of Tongeren ruled that HEMA did not have a clearly stated policy on headscarves and thus had no valid justification to dismiss the woman. The court ordered HEMA to pay the 21-year-old woman €9,000 ($12,000), the equivalent of six month’s salary, as compensation.

According to the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, an NGO that helped bring the woman’s case to trial, the main purpose of the legal action was to clarify how far a company can go in seeking to present a “neutral image” to its customers. The NGO believes neutrality cannot be invoked as a genuine and determining occupational requirement, and says it is not self-evident that neutrality can amount to a legitimate goal if and when it is chiefly invoked to please a private company’s clients.

Also in January, the gangland shootings of two young Moroccan men in downtown Amsterdam drew renewed attention to the growing problem of violent crime among Muslim immigrants. The two men were gunned down with AK-47 assault rifles in a shooting the mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, described as reminiscent of “the Wild West.”

According to the Amsterdam-based newspaper Het Parool, young Moroccans continue their “unstoppable march to become the largest group of violent criminals” in the country, despite decades of government programs aimed at steering young Muslims away from a life of crime. Moroccan gangsters specialize mainly in robberies of banks and jewelry stores, as well as in drug trafficking, according to Het Parool.

Meanwhile, the Dutch newspaper Trouw reported that the Protestant Church of the Netherlands is planning to close up to 800 of its 2,000 churches around the country due to the dwindling number of practicing Christians. Critics of the move say many of these buildings are likely to be converted into mosques.

In February, Members of the Belgian Parliament introduced a bill that would limit the power of Muslim extremists who win elected office at the local or national levels and isolate themselves from the political mainstream.

The move came after members of the newly established Islam Party vowed to implement Islamic Sharia law in Belgium.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

“Belgium Will Become an Islamic State”

by Soeren Kern:

The statements of Mark Elchardus, author of a 426 page study, who linked Islam with anti-Semitism, earned him a lawsuit filed by a Muslim group, which said that his comments violated Belgium’s anti-discrimination law of 2007, which forbids discrimination on the basis of “religious convictions,” and Article 444 of the Belgian penal code as his statements appeared in a newspaper and were therefore repeated extensively in print. Belgian law, however, apparently did not prevent Muslims from resorting to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

Two Muslim politicians, who just won municipal elections in Belgium’s capital, Brussels, on October 14, have vowed to implement Islamic Sharia law in Belgium.

The two candidates, Lhoucine Aït Jeddig and Redouane Ahrouch, both from the fledgling Islam Party, won seats in two heavily Islamized municipalities of Brussels, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean and Anderlecht, respectively.

During a post-election press conference in Brussels on October 25, the two future councilors, who will be officially sworn in on December 3, said they regard their election as key to the assertion of the Muslim community in Belgium.

“We are elected Islamists but above all we are Muslims,” Ahrouch said. “Islam is compatible with the laws of the Belgian people. As elected Muslims, we embrace the Koran and the tradition of the Prophet Mohammed. We believe Islam is a universal religion. Our presence on the town council will give us the opportunity to express ourselves,” said Ahrouch, who refuses to shake hands or make eye contact with females in public.

A one-hour video of the press conference in French has been posted on YouTube. At one point in the video (0:07:40) Ahrouch, 42, says he will strive to make sure that the town council’s “motions and solutions are durable and definitive and will emanate from Islam.”

Ahrouch, who was sentenced to six months in prison in 2003 for the assault and battery of his disabled wife, also spends considerable time talking about ethics in politics and “respect for the other.”

Elsewhere in the video (0:25:40), Aït Jeddig, 50, commends Islam as having paved the way for “the emergence of European civilization.” (He makes no mention of Europe’s Judeo-Christian or Greek-Roman roots.) He also insists that Islam is compatible with freedom and democracy.

The video ends with an interview of a third Islam Party candidate, Abdelhay Bakkali Tahar, 51, who did not garner enough votes to secure a seat in the district of Bruxelles Ville.

The Islam Party, which plans to field candidates in European-level elections in 2014, campaigned on three core issues: ensuring that halal meals are served in public school cafeterias, securing the official recognition of Muslim religious holidays, and pushing for a law that would legalize the wearing of Islamic headscarves in public spaces.

Ahrouch has run for political office before. In 1999, he founded a political party called “Noor: Le Parti Islamique,” which promotes a 40-point program based on Islamic Sharia law. These points include, among other items: 7) abolishing interest payments [riba] in the Belgian banking sector; 10) redesigning the Belgian judiciary to comply with Islamic law; 11) restoring capital punishment; 12) prohibiting alcohol and cigarettes; 15) promoting teenage marriage; 16) segregating males and females in public spaces; 20) outlaw gambling and the lottery; and 39) creating an official Islamic alms fund [Zakat].

Ahrouch says that his ultimate goal, creating an Islamic state in Belgium based on Islamic Sharia law, has not changed.

Read more at Gatestone Institute