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November 24, 2015 8:01 am

Belgian Breeding Ground Fuels New Terror Wave

avatar by Abigail R. Esman

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The Brussels Great Marked Square in Belgium. Photo: Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons.

The Brussels Great Marked Square in Belgium. Photo: Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons.

In previous times, thoughts of Belgium led to thoughts of rich, dark chocolate, of Old Master painters, and of 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 was in lockdown on Monday, 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 November 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.

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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 November 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.

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  • Worldwide alert: the real Muslim mission.

    Israel has no choice but to continue to fight for its survival. Thus, it is time for a Clarion Call unifying all Israelis on a national scale, as well as all Jews worldwide.
    I have long stated the real Arab Muslim mission in Israel is NOT about alleged “occupied” land. Rather, the real Arab Muslim mission is the extermination of Israel as a nation; the extermination of Judaism as a religion; and the genocide of Israelis and their culture. The reason for such an Arab Muslim mission has been repeatedly stated by their leaders: their belief they “have the right to kill all non believers”.
    Posit the following, what if there was no “Holy Land” as part of modern day Israel? Would the Arab Muslims still demand land which they have no legal right to claim? Would they still use terroristic tactics to kill innocent Israeli Jews wishing for a peaceful co-existence? The irrefutable answer, as proven by their unfounded rhetoric and actions is an emphatic YES. The reality is, the Arab Muslims use of “contested land rights” is a thinly disguised façade to hide their true mission: the genocide of Jews and extermination of Israel at any cost;
    History proves the Arab countries terrorized and expelled over a million Jewish families and their children. In so doing the Arab countries confiscated all Jewish assets, businesses, homes and real estate totaling over 120,000 sq. km. or 75,000 sq. miles, (which is 6 times the size of Israel), and valued in the trillions of dollars. The reason they were expelled, hatred and greed. Those expelled Jewish families were resettled in Israel and account for over half the population of Israel today.
    Those in power in the Arab-Palestinian leadership have rejected again and again any and all attempts to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Although sometimes occupied, there has been a Jewish Nation in the land of Israel for the past 4000 years. In fact, the Jews are the ONLY surviving indigenous people to Israel. Yet, even though history proves there has never been an Arab-Palestinian Nation, the Arab Muslims falsely claim they have a right to Israel. Said false claim exposes the true mission of the Arab Muslims: extermination of Israel and the genocide of Jews.
    An examination of what Arab Muslims teach their children further exposes their true mission. They continue to teach their children to hate, enslave, terrorize and kill Jews, and all non-believers by any means possible. Ironically, the world idly sits by allowing such hatred and violence to exist and expand thinking it is only an Israeli problem (Déjà vu Hitler and Nazism).
    The Muslim mission in the world is not only Israel but the rest of the world, and all “infidel non-believers”. Though there are constant instances of terroristic acts throughout the world which support the above statement, we need not consider any other than September 11, 2001. On 9/11 Arab Muslim terrorists killed close to 3,000 innocent people, including children in America. It is time for the world to accept the fact the Arab Muslim mission of worldwide genocide of ALL non-Muslims, and even some Muslims, will continue until education and humanity replaces such hatred, or eliminates it altogether.
    History proves Arab Muslims have killed over 500 million people since its inception 1500 years ago. Moreover, the number of deaths by Arab Muslims continues to grow every day. They have colonized the Middle East over the years. Now they are slowly but surely taking over Europe. Rest assured if we are not careful to protect ourselves, they will attempt to take over the United States and all other countries. Then we the non-believers and our children will be forced to kneel before a sword wielding Arab Muslim, having committed no other crime than having a different religious belief.
    It is time for the world to wake up and face stark reality: wherever there are Arab Muslims there is hatred fueled conflict and terrorism in an ongoing mission of genocide.
    I hope Israel understands it cannot concede to any of the Arab Muslim demands, or give up any more land. To do so will only weaken Israel, making it more vulnerable and endangering the safety and security of its citizens. Israel must retract all previous concessions since the Arab Muslims have not abided by any of the agreements. It is time to expose the real mission of the Arab Muslims: worldwide genocide.
    YJ Draiman

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