A quick update to yesterday’s story about the brothers Abdelhamid (27) and Younes (13) Abaaoud, the latter being Belgium’s — and probably Europe’s — youngest foreign fighter in Syria. We have identified that same Abdelhamid in a video showing the removal of corpses after the mass execution that ISIS committed last month in Hraytan.
The video was obtained by the French magazine Paris-Match, and according to the article that was published online, it was filmed using Abdelhamid’s mobile phone. But it wasn’t he who made the images — that was the work of a friend. Paris-Match identified both Belgian fighters only by their aliases, Abou Omar and Abou Mehdi.
Abou Mehdi is easily recognizable by the G-Star hat visible on several portraits on his Facebook page. That mentions Brussels as his place of residence, but also that he has studied at the ‘Institut des Arts et Métiers de Pierrard’ in the rather remote Belgian-Luxembourg town of Virton. His real name seems to be Khaled Hachti Bernan. His birthday is October 30, but he doesn’t reveal his year of birth.
Abou Omar — seen behind the wheel of a Dodge towing several corpses and heard while joking: “You can film my trailer now” — is wearing the same sweater as in the video we posted yesterday of him, and the same pakol (an Afghan hat) as in the picture we found on his Facebook page. His ‘nom de guerre’ is Abou Omar Soussi, as we mentioned yesterday.
A third foreign fighter that appears in the video, seems to be Abou Yahya Beljiki — another Belgian member of ISIS. We’re not sure about his true identity, but one of his Facebook pictures can be seen here. The background of the image does resemble the luxurious villa near Aleppo where lots of the Belgian ISIS fighters were staying for several months.
Belgium’s youngest fighter in Syria appears to be only thirteen years old. Brussels born Younes Abaaoud was taken there by his older brother at the end of January. Abdelhamid (27) has joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and told his father by phone that Younes doesn’t take part in the war — despite pictures of him with a gun.
Father Omar, a Moroccan born shopkeeper living already about forty years in Belgium, revealed the fate of his sons yesterday in the Belgian newspaper ‘La Capitale‘. He described the youngest one as a boy who never showed signs of religious extremism, told about his fear that he never will see him again and that his third son too could decide to join the other two.
We managed to find the Facebook accounts of both brothers, learning more about them. Abdelhamid is using the alias ‘Abou Omar Soussi’, referring to his father’s name and the Souss region in Morocco where his family has it’s roots. His account is active since July 15 of last year, mentioning ISIS (“Dawla Islamiya fi L’Iraq wa Cham”) as affiliation and showing a picture of him in Syria with the comment: “Abou Omar the Belgian in the trenches”, posted on February 8, 2014.
Four days ago, he also linked to a video showing him during a fight, hosted by YouTube and also saved here. The part in which he appears, is titled “Message of Abou Omar Al-Belgiki from the land of the battles” and starts at 00:04:31. “Our enemy advances with tanks, heavy artillery and plenty of men”, he tells in French, “while we are only about fifty fighters, lacking artillery and most of us only armed with a kalashnikov. But we do have the mightiest weapon a man can have in the fight against the enemies of Allah.”
One of the people reacting in the following days, was his own sister Yasmin. “Apparently, you feel that your weapon won’t help against your enemies, who are much more numerous and well-equiped. Why don’t you leave that place?” His answer: “Those who read and understand the coran, know that military overweight doesn’t bring victory. Only Allah does. Most of the victories that muslims were given by Allah, were victories of a minority.”
Back in the video, Abdelhamid explains why it is making him happy to see the blood of infidels being spilled. “That’s because I had to watch my entire life television images of muslim blood being spilled. I pray that Allah will break the backs of those opposing him, their soldiers and their admirers, and exterminate them.” He also calls muslims from all over the world to come to Syria. “A muslim should only submit to Allah, while you are submitting to the infidels”, he says.
Younes seems to use a Facebook account under the alias ‘Abou Mansour’. Although the date of birth mentioned there — June 22, 1990 — cannot be right, there are several interactions indicating it is him. For example, when pictures of Younes with a gun are posted, his brother reacts: “Truly a man” and another European fighter states: “Truly a fighter.” It is ‘Abou Mansour’ who takes the credits by answering: “Thank you, brothers. May Allah bless you.” Probably he just wanted to look older than he really is, not so unusual for a teenager.
Also pointing in his direction is the fact that ‘Abou Mansour’ is active on Facebook since January 26 of this year, around the moment both brothers arrived in Syria. One of the images is showing Younes there in the company of another Belgian fighter, ‘Abu Houdaifa Ahmed’. He is one of the ‘Shariah4Belgium’ followers from Vilvoorde near Brussels who traveled to Syria — ending up in a group of Belgian and French ISIS fighters based in Hraytan near Aleppo. Last month, they were forced to move to Azaz, after which they were implicated in several cruelties such as beheadings.