More on foreign fighters in Syria here.
Belgium has a long-standing dual relationship with its Maghreb or Turkish immigrants. In the 1960's, the Moroccan and Turkish immigration was encouraged in order to provide cheap labor for the coal and steel industry, which allowed Belgium to take its place in European construction. The decline of heavy industry has not led to the departure of these immigrants Today, some people of the third and fourth generations are on the margins of Belgian society. Part of the immigrant youth of Moroccan origin rocker in crime since 1980's-1990's. .
Capitalizing on these integration difficulties, the party Sharia4Belgium was born March 3, 2010. His spokesman, Salafist Fouad Belkacem, is persona non grata in Belgium. After several lawsuits and public pressure, the party is finally dissolved Oct. 7, 2012 . The war then raging in Syria for a year and a half. It takes a few months to get the first information about the Belgian and Dutch volunteers who left to join the jihad in Syria. As regards Belgium, the first people were identified in March 2013, with the Flemish language used on videos posted from Syria. Parents of Brian De Mulder and Jejoen Bontinck recognize their sons on videos. The far-right Vlaams Belang managed to indoctrinate a family for propaganda while the father of Bontinck went to Syria to look for his son. All blame Sharia4Belgium1. .
|A droite, Brian de Mulder, aux côtés d'un autre combattant belge parti en Syrie et qui était à la direction de Sharia4Belgium.-Source : http://emmejihad.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/chaib-de-mulder.jpg|
On 10 April 2013 a Belgian weekly published an article on national jihadists, saying that 12 of them have already been killed (figure still unconfirmed). In June, two newspapers provide information on the quota after the death of Abd ar-Rahman Ayashi, a Franco- Syrian who had left Belgium in 2012 after being jailed for eight years. He became battalion commander in the group Suqour as-Sham, leading no less than 600 men in combat. He was the son of Sheikh Bassam Ayashi, a Syrian of Molenbeek, Brussels. The family is monitored by the Belgian authorities since at least September 2009. Few months earlier, a friend of Ayashi, the French Raphael Gendron, was also killed in Syria. Among others Belgians killed in action, there is also Abouallal Nur ad Din, member Sharia4Belgium, killed July 25, 2013. 33 other members of the group, in September 2013, still fighting in Syria, whose Hussyan Elouassaki, alias Abu Fallujah , which lead the brigade Ansar Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen, near Aleppo, responsible for beheadings . The number of Belgians wo already left for Syria are then evaluated to 150-200 .
|Abd ar-Rahman Ayashi.-Source : http://pietervanostaeyen.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/ayashi.jpg|
On 13 January 2014 the Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed that more than 200 Belgians have left to Syria since the conflict began, and at least 20 have been killed2. For Petier van Ostaeyen, the specialist of the topic, April 27, 2014, it would actually 3963 Belgians (at least 220) who have joined Syria since the beginning of the conflict : from the 102 identified via the media or social networks ( nd 32 known also only by their nom de guerre), 57 are involved with Sharia4Belgium , 20 joined the ISIS and at least one al-Nosra. For the rest of the sample, it is very difficult to know which armed groups joined volunteers (37 with ISIS, 8 al- Nosra 10 with Suqur as- Sham, 1 with Liwa Shuhada in Idlib, 1 in another grouo). 5 have 16 and come from Brussels and Vilvoorde. The age of fighters ranges from 13 (Younes Abaaoud4) to 68 (if you include Sheikh Bassam al- Ayashi, otherwise it falls to 38). The average age is 24.5 years. There are at least 17 women in the belge quota5. At least 14 miners are gone, 4 of which come back ; 1 was brought by his mother. 10 come from Brussels and Vilvoorde, a district of the capital. From 136 volunteers whose departure cities are identified, 48 come from Brussels, 41 from Antwerp, 22 from Vilvoorde, 14 from Mechelen. An Antwerp-Mechelen-Brussels-Vilvoorde thus emerges on the map and jihadism regards the Belgian Flanders almost in its entirety, the problem is very marginal in Wallonia. At least 29 volunteers returned in Belgium (including 4 repressed at the Turkish border). One of them, Elouassaki Hakim, was wounded and returned to heal. On January 23, two women of fighters, pregnant, were repatriated in accordance with the authorities, possibly in exchange for information about their husbands (who belong to Sharia4Belgium) We know that 10 members of the organization come back, as eight others who were part of the ISIS and 2 of al-Nosra. The largest contingents are back in Antwerp and Vilvoorde. 7 members Sharia4Belgium, 6 inhabitants of Brussels, 6 of Vilvoorde and at least one of Maaseik and another in Mechelen were killed ; in all, there are 27 deaths since December 2012 (9 members of Sharia4Belgium, 6 residents of Brussels, 6 residents of Vilvoorde, one from Maaseik, another from Mechelen)6. 8 killed belong to ISIS, 8 to al-Nosra, 2 to Suqour al-Sham, and 9 more likely to ISIS. The last killed dated belongs to al-Nosra : he died in the fighting in Sheikh Najjar Industrial District, northeast of Aleppo, under the nom de guerre of Abu Handalah7. At least 220 Belgians are still in Syria, and perhaps more than 3008. On 54 Belgians located on site, 29 were in Aleppo (including 17 of the ISIS with 7 killed or who come back in Belgium, and 10 which are probably now Raqqa ), 12 are in Raqqa (including 10 of Aleppo), 11 are in the province of Idlib, 6 in Homs and 3 were in the Latakia (one killed in August 2013 during the first major rebel offensive on site) , two in Damascus and one was killed in Saraqib .
|Younes Abaaoud, le plus jeune combattant belge en Syrie (13 ans).-Source : http://emmejihad.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/67846_1384639538466403_335192518_n.jpg|
|Nora Verhoeven, une des femmes parties faire le djihad en Syrie.-Source : http://emmejihad.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/1618475_251975741651335_2119415134_n.jpg|
Peter van Ostaeyen also presents some examples of Belgians gone to fight in Syria. Te Ou, 19, from Vilvoorde, is currently in Aleppo, where he fought for ISIS. Houdaifa Abu Ahmed, whose family is of Moroccan origin (and probably Berber), 21, is also fighting in Aleppo, like most Belgians elsewhere, and has a brother who is in Afghanistan. Abu Sulayman al- Muhajir, of Algerian origin, went with his wife to Aleppo in August 2013. One of his brothers also would fight in Syria. Younes (Michael) Delefortrie, a converted Antwerp, is a known member of Sharia4Belgium : in 2011 he was arrested in possession of an AK-47. He fought in Aleppo but returned to Belgium after the outbreak of fighting against the ISIS, January 3, 2014 ; arrested by the police, he denies having fought in Syria. Abdel Monaim, of Moroccan origin, 32, was killed in January 2014, it is described more as an adventurer than as a radical Islamist. Abu Sulayman al- Baljiki, 36, is the oldest part of the Belgian ISIS. Originally from Brussels, he fought in a group of Franco- Belgian present in Homs and Aleppo. Abu al-Muhajir Maqdad, of Moroccan origin (Berber), is fighting in Aleppo and has the particularity to speak Arabic, French and Dutch. Abu Jihad al- Baljiki is one of the few members of Sharia4Belgium to have joined al-Nosra. Ismail Mujahid, 17, left Brussels for Syria in April 2013 with his friend Bilal. His brother Zakaria, 23, was already in Syria. Bilal returned to Belgium after a few months but Ismail remained with the ISIS. Hisham Chaib, 30, of Antwerp, was one of the bodyguards of the Chief of Sharia4Belgium, Fuad Belkacem. He spent two months in prison in early 2013 for his role in the riots in Borgerhout, Antwerp9. Departures of young Belgians still continues early May 2014 : a young man of 24, Abu Sabir Al Belgiki, from Borgerhout, announces on his Facebook profile that he managed to reach Syria10.
1Pieter Van Ostaeyen, « Belgian Jihadis in Syria », Jihadology.net, 5 septembre 2013.
9Pieter Van Ostaeyen, « Belgium’s Syria Fighters ~ An Overview of 2012 and 2013 (II) », Jihadology.net, 25 janvier 2014.