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Alleged Belgian plot mastermind shamed family: father

Published on 20/01/2015

The father of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged mastermind of a foiled Islamist plot in Belgium, says his son has shamed the family and destroyed their lives.

“Why in the name of God, would he want to kill innocent Belgians? Our family owes everything to this country,” Omar Abaaoud, whose family moved to Belgium 40 years ago from Morocco, told La Derniere Heure newspaper Tuesday.

“We had a wonderful life, yes, even a fantastic life here. Abdelhamid was not a difficult child and became a good businessman,” the father was quoted as saying.

“But suddenly he left for Syria. I wondered every day how he became radicalised to this point. I never got an answer,” said the father of six children who lives in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, a working class neighbourhood of Brussels.

“Abdelhamid has brought shame on our family. Our lives have been destroyed,” he said.

Belgian media named 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud as the suspected leader of the cell broken up by a raid last Thursday in the eastern town of Verviers where the alleged militants were plotting an imminent attack on Belgian police.

Belgium’s Flemish-language VTM channel reported that Abaaoud had made calls from Greece to the brother of one of the two heavily-armed suspects killed in Verviers.

According to Belgian media, Abaaoud spent time fighting alongside the Islamic State group in Syria.

He was already known to security forces after appearing in an Islamic State video at the wheel of a car transporting mutilated bodies to a mass grave.

In 2014, Abelhamid convinced his younger brother Younes, then 13 years old, to join him in Syria.

“He got himself recruited by Abdelhamid and for that I will never forgive Abdelhamid,” the father told La Derniere Heure.

“Do I still consider Abdelhamid my son? It’s a very difficult question. Perhaps the response is the following: I never want to see him again. But I hope in return that he makes it so that Younes returns safe and sound,” he said.

A police dragnet Saturday in the Greek capital Athens missed Abdelhamid Abaaoud but picked up a 33-year-old Algerian, suspected of links to the Verviers cell.

The man agreed Tuesday to be extradited to Belgium, a judicial source said.