Expatica news

Brussels commune ‘extremistMuslim recruiting ground’

14 March 2005

BRUSSELS – One of Brussels’ poorest communes is a breeding ground for Islamic extremists, according to a report by an undercover Muslim journalist.

Hind Fraihi, a Flemish-Moroccan freelancer, spent two months living in Molenbeek, which has a large North African population.

She posed as a sociology student.

Fraihi claims to have spoken to dozens of young Muslims who have been offered arms training in Afghanistan to join Islamic extremist ranks.

On Saturday, the Flemish newspapers Het Nieuwsblad and Het Volk published the first part of Fraihi’s investigation which is based on her observations and conversations in mosques, cultural centres and on the streets of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean.

Gunther Vanpraet, the managing editor of the two newspapers, said Fraihi had wanted to see “if the rumours about an increase in the number of Muslim extremists in Belgium were true.”

Vanpraet said hundreds of young adults had been studying Islam for years.

“They are future Muslim leaders,” he said.

“Alongside them is a significant group of young people who have very little hope of a normal future in our country because of their lack of training and because of the job market. This is a breeding ground for thousands of Jihad candidates who are ready to commit terrorist attacks and to lead the religious war against the infidels.”

Vanpraet said these extremists were using Belgium as a base for planning terrorism, rather than as a target.

Fraihi found extremist Jihad writings in several Molenbeek libraries and said such documents were also in frequent circulation in the commune.

“The majority of the mosques which circulate these dangerous documents operate in the greatest secrecy and are difficult for the security services to infiltrate,” she wrote.

Extremist recruiters approach Muslim residents in the street or in mosques, found Fraihi.

Molenbeek mayor Philippe Moureaux and the police played down the findings in the investigation, saying the number of Muslim terrorists was small and that many were already known to the authorities and under surveillance.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news