Belgium: Report on Belgian al-Qaeda

Belgium: Report on Belgian al-Qaeda

Apparently in honor of Valentine's Day, CNN prepared a special report on Belgium's foremost Jihadi.

CNN correspondent Nic Robertson
reports on the Belgian al-Qaeda cell, led by Malika el Aroud. Most of his report, embedded below, follows el Aroud's childhood, through her rebellious years, until she finally becomes an Islamic Jihadi, based on a past interview with her on CNN and more recent interviews with her family.

However, the most interesting is part 3, where
Robertson and his crew visit the Islamic neighborhoods of Brussels, where he says, even the police don't dare go. He reports about el Aroud's more recent terror connections and her group's attempt to commit an attack in Belgium.

See also Love in the Time of Terror, by Paul Cruickshank of the Center on Law and Security


When I got off the Eurostar train I’d taken from London to Brussels there was nothing to suggest I was in a city that has ties to radical Islamic terrorism.

Quite the reverse, the very nature of Euro train terminus at the Gare du Midi is, dare I say it, quintessential busy modern Europe. Neat Euro bistros bustle with a cosmopolitan collection of travelers from as close as the suburbs to people like me who’ve taken the short two-hour ride from Britain.

So I suppose it felt a little strange to be here in a city that on the surface doesn’t have a terrorism problem.

Indeed, compared to many places I travel like the Middle East or Afghanistan, it felt positively tame.

I’d come to tell the story of Malika el Aroud, a 49-year-old Belgian-Moroccan woman who had one husband killed in a high profile al Qaeda suicide attack and has herself been convicted in Switzerland of running a Web site promoting terrorism.

Somehow I felt in the wrong place. Not so, when barely an hour later we are being accosted by a bunch of angry young men while filming in a neighborhood barely five minutes' drive from the station. I was coming face to face with an undercurrent that passes most people by. It was to be an undercurrent I would come across again and again during my stay.

The Belgian police chief told us that because of high levels of immigration, seven out of 10 children at schools in Belgium cannot speak either of Belgium's mother tongues -- French or Flemish. He explained that Brussels' immigrant population has become segregated, in some places physically, from the rest of society.

That segregation has heightened resentment over poor housing, poor education and poor job prospects for many immigrants and their children.

When I met Malika el Aroud’s family they gave me a more nuanced understanding of what makes young Muslim men and women angry and why their sister’s angry postings on her jihadi Web site resonate with so many.

At first, Malika’s sister Saida and brother Mohammed were reticent about opening up to us.

Slowly they understood we’d come to hear their story, understand more about Malika, who she is and what motivates her. They don’t buy the police account that their sister is tied to al Qaeda. What they see is a woman who is angry enough and strong enough to express here feelings. They concede she has never been very diplomatic.

But as I listened to Saida and Mohammed I realized the anger we’d seen and felt on streets had its roots in something much bigger than social marginalization in Belgium.


Source: CNN (English)

For more on Malika el Aroud:
* France/Italy: Al-Qaeda cell investigation
* Belgium: "Mother of al-Qaeda in Europe" saved by Belgian secret service
* Antwerp: The Jihadis of Antwerp North (1)
* Antwerp: The Jihadis of Antwerp North (2)
* Belgium: Al-Qaeda cell apprehended
* Switzerland: Islamist website owners found guilty

No comments: