Belgian fighter admits that Islamic State is lacking manpower

The Islamic State is in dire need of fighters, a prominent Belgian member admits. Listing the sixteen best reasons to join the jihad, he puts the lack of manpower at the second place.

PLEASE SEE UPDATE BELOW.

Belgian IS fighter Hicham Chaïb in a picture from Syria published in October

Belgian IS fighter Hicham Chaïb in a picture from Syria published in October

According to recent reports in western media, the Islamic State (IS) is so in need of additional manpower after weeks of hammering airstrikes, that it dropped most of its vetting of foreign recruits. In the past, new volunteers had to present recommendations of three established fighters before they were allowed to cross the Turkish border and enter Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s caliphate. “Almost any muslim who wants to travel now can”, a man responsible for a safehouse of IS in the Turkish town of Urfa told ‘The Daily Telegraph‘ last week.

Writing on his Facebook page, a prominent Belgian fighter within IS now explicitly confirms that the group is in shortage of fighters. Hicham Chaïb, a former leader of the extremist organization Shariah4Belgium, listed sixteen arguments to join the army of IS. “We call upon the muslims to fight for so much reasons”, he wrote, “with the following as the most obvious.” The first one he mentioned was “to prevent the infidels to dominate”, while the second already spoke about the “lack of manpower” his group is facing now.

The entire list reads as follows — as literally as possible translated out of Dutch:

1. To prevent the infidels to dominate

2. Because of the lack of manpower

3. Out of fear for the fire in hell

4. To fulfill the duty of Jihad and heed the call of the Lord

5. To follow the pious predecessors (the exemplary generations)

6. To build a solid base for Islam

7. To protect those who are suppressed in the countries

8. To hope for martyrdom and a high position in the Paradise

9. Because Jihad truly is a shield for the honor of the Ummah and a means to avoid humiliation

10. To protect the honor of the Ummah and to break the conspiracy of its enemies

11. To guarantee the earth and protect against depravity

12. To safeguard the islamic places of worship

13. To protect the Ummah against punishment, depravation and replacement

14. For the prosperity of the Ummah and the expansion of its means

15. Because Jihad is the culmination of Islam

16. Because Jihad is the most outstanding way of worship and the Muslim can obtain the highest degrees with it.

Before he went to Syria on the 19th of March 2013, Chaïb was known as bodyguard of Shariah4Belgium’s founder and leader Fouad Belkacem. But the role of ‘Abu Haniefa’ — as he was called in the organization — was much more important than flexing his muscles. That became clear when he took over the organization after Belkacem’s imprisonment in June 2012 together with two other core members, Feisal Yamoun and Noureddine Abouallal. They are both killed in Syria since. All four the mentioned men are currently on trial in Belgium for leadership of a terrorist organization — in absentia of course, apart from Belkacem.

In Syria, Chaïb apparently is trying to become the new public face of his group. He did appear already in several promotional videos describing the prosperous life in the caliphate, and frequently is launching new appeals to join IS in Facebook posts. His wife Kaoutar Bioui, also known as ‘Umm Haniefa Al Belgikiya’, has followed her husband to Syria and is as radical as he. In May of this year, she even called upon the muslims in Belgium to assassinate the far right politician Filip De Winter. “May Allah enlighten our eyes with the slaughter of this pig”, she wrote.

UPDATE: Chaïb’s list of arguments to join Islamic State comes literally from Al Qaida’s co-founder Abdullah Yusuf Azzam’s years old pamphlet ‘Join the Caravan‘, as Timothy Holman informed us today. So, it may be wrong to relate it to the current state of IS.


“James Foley was held by Belgian fighters last year”

James Foley, the American reporter beheaded last week, shared a prison cell with former Belgian fighter Jejoen Bontinck for at least three weeks. Reportedly, they were held at that time by Bontinck’s former comrades from Shariah4Belgium, who brandished Jejoen as a traitor because he wanted to go home.

Belgian ID card of Jejoen Bontinck, shown as a trophy by a former fellow fighter after Bontinck had left Syria last year

Belgian ID card of Jejoen Bontinck, shown by former fellow fighter after Bontinck had left Syria already last year

It was CEO Philip Balboni of GlobalPost, the American news site for which Foley was working in Syria, who broke the news about his deplored journalist and Jejoen Bontinck knowing each other. “In September 2013, a young Belgian who had travelled to fight in Syria had befriended Foley and, once that jihadist went back to Belgium, offered excellent information on roughly where Jim was held and by whom”, he was quoted by NBC News. “It was the first time we knew that Jim was alive. It was a wonderful, wonderful moment.” Balboni didn’t mention the name of the Belgian — but that wasn’t hard to find for anyone familiar with the phenomenon of Belgian fighters in Syria.

Jejoen Bontinck (19) went to Syria in February, 2013. He converted to islam a few years before and joined the radical organization ‘Shariah4Belgium’. He says he didn’t want to fight, but provide humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people. Disgusted by the violence of war, he wanted to go home already in March of that year. But his comrades from Shariah4Belgium with whom he teamed together, considered him as a traitor or even a spy, and imprisoned him for several months. He was held in Aleppo, the northern Syrian city which was the main stronghold of the radical islamic resistance at that time.

Bontinck was never a prisoner of the Islamic State, his lawyer Kris Luyckx explained to the Belgian newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’. Although most of his Belgian comrades now have joined the extremely brutal group, at that time they were still active under the banner of ‘Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen’ or ‘Jabhat al-Nusra’. That Bontinck was held together with Islamic State victim Foley — as confirmed by Luyckx — is consistent with the claim that Foley’s abduction was carried out by of one of those groups. When the American got caught in November 2012, the Islamic State didn’t exist yet in Syria. It was founded in April 2013 as ISIS — the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Sham’.

“Bontinck and Foley shared a cell for at least three weeks around August of last year”, says Luyckx. “And they weren’t the only Westerners — there was a European journalist too. Apparently, the two reporters were later transfered to ar-Raqqah, and it must have been there Foley was held by the British fighters that are known now as ‘The Beatles’. Jejoen has never met the guy who killed Foley or one of his accomplices. He always stayed in the hands of his former comrades of Shariah4Belgium.” If that is true, it means that Foley too was held by the Belgians for some time.

It isn’t clear whether they were also involved in Foley’s abduction — and an important question that also remains, is whether it were Bontinck’s former brothers in arms who have delivered Foley directly to those who’ve killed him now. The Belgian judiciary has indicted thirteen people for taking Bontinck hostage — based on the names he reportedly mentioned himself — and at least some of those people can be suspected in Foley’s case too. All belong to a group of 46 that has to stand trial this fall — although for most of them it will be a trial in absentia, since they are still fighting in Syria or were killed in action there.

Of the thirteen former Shariah4Belgium members that are indicted for imprisoning Bontinck, at least four have died already: Houssien Elouassaki from Vilvoorde, Nabil Azahaf from Brussels, Noureddine Abouallal from Antwerp and Yassine El Karouni — a Dutchman that apparently has spent most of his last years in Antwerp. Of those who are considered still alive, the highest ranking is Hicham Chaïb, alias ‘Abu Haniefa’. He became one of the leaders of Shariah4Belgium after the imprisonment of it’s founder Fouad Belkacem. Chaïb is living in ar-Raqqah now, where he was seen already in the company of senior Islamic State commander Abu Waheed.

The remaining eight names are Azeddine Kbir Bounekoub, Said M’Nari, Brahim El Mimouni and Fouad Akrich from Antwerp — Zakaria Asbai and Magomed Saralapov from Vilvoorde — Rachid Iba from Maaseik — and Redouan Akdim from Naarden in the Netherlands. Noteworthy is that Iba was already convicted as a member of the terrorist ‘Groupe Islamique Combattant Marocain’ back in 2006, that Kbir Bounekoub has appeared in a gruesome video with dead bodies in Syria, and that Akrich is one of the exceptions who stayed in the ranks of Jabhat al-Nusra — a fact that has ignited already vicious debates on Facebook, where he’s still a ‘friend’ of his former comrades who went to the Islamic State.

Jejoen was freed in September 2013 and after his return in Belgium, he was intensively interrogated by security services of several countries. According to his lawyer, the information he provided about the location where he and Foley were held, has been the motor behind the rescue operation undertaken for Foley by American elite soldiers. But the details Bontinck gave about his prison — “near a courthouse and a hospital”, for instance — were about the place where he was held in Aleppo. And apparently the raid took place at a time Foley was moved to ar-Raqqah already.


Facebook picture learns Belgian woman about husband’s death in Syria

During the past few days, three Belgian fighters reportedly were killed in Syria. All of them belonged to the radical ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Sham’ (ISIS). One of their women, back from Syria herself since only two months, learned about her husband’s fate yesterday evening by seeing a picture of his dead body on a friend’s Facebook account.

The wife of ‘Abu Muthanna’, one of the Belgian dead, saw his picture (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE) on the Facebook page of Hicham Chaïb (a.k.a. ‘Abu Haniefa’, a.k.a. ‘Muhajirien As Shaam’), the only remaining leader of Shariah4Belgium currently fighting in Syria. “My husband?” she reacted in panic. “Can anybody contact me please to tell what’s going on?”

Several hours later, still no visible answer was shown. It is unsure whether Hicham Chaïb is on the same spot where ‘Abu Muthanna’ had died, since Chaïb is mentioning Homs as his place of residence and the three Belgians were killed somewhere in between of Ar-Raqqah and Hasakah, according to the French ISIS fighter ‘Abu Abdillah Mujahid’ — who appears to be the original source of the picture that Chaïb has shared.

“On Tuesday, six of our people were killed in battles against the Free Syrian Army, Ahrar Al-Sham and Jabhat Al-Nusra near the village of Margada, two of them Belgians”, the Frenchman wrote. “On Wednesday seven, one of them from Belgium and another one from the Netherlands.” He didn’t mention any names, but apart from ‘Abu Muthanna’ and slain comrades from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Indonesia, he also posted a posthumous picture (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE) of an African man, telling the guy was a Belgian from Malian descent.

‘Oum Almuthanna’, as the woman mentioned above is calling herself, is a sister of Noureddine Abouallal (a.k.a. ‘Abou Mujahid’)— another member of the triumvirate that took over as leaders of Shariah4Belgium after the arrest of founder and public face Fouad Belkacem (a.k.a. ‘Abu Imran’). Abouallal was killed while fighting in Syria in July of last year (a video eulogy can be seen here) while his third colleague Feisal Yamoun (a.k.a. ‘Abu Faris’) has died there last month (video here). All of them were living in of near the Belgian city of Antwerp and share Moroccan roots.

In January, ‘Oum Almuthanna’ and Abouallal’s widow Tatiana Wielandt — a Flemish muslim convert — came back from Syria. They both appeared to be pregnant, and apparently they didn’t want to give birth in the midst of a vicious war. According to their parents, they got help from the Belgian authorities while traveling home. After their arrival, they were questioned by the police, but not arrested.

UPDATE: a partly French spoken video of the remains of ‘Abu Muthanna’ can be seen here — with a warning again for it’s graphic content.


Unseen images of Shariah4Belgium leader Abou Mujahid — from childhood to grave

Published already a while ago, this tribute to former Shariah4Belgium leader ‘Abou Mujahid’ contains some unseen images — literally from his childhood to his grave.

Picture 2014-02-24 om 00.35.46

Please do realise it is showing his dead body too. Reminder: ‘Abou Mujahid’ was killed last summer fighting in Syria. His real name was Noureddine Abouallal and he was one of the three Shariah4Belgium leaders after the arrest of public face Fouad Belkacem — a.k.a. Abu Imran.

Originally posted on YouTube by user Nusrah Bil-Jihaad and backed up here.


Brian De Mulder & Hicham Chaïb pictured together in Syria

Today, a new picture emerged of Brian De Mulder, one of the most famous Belgians fighting in Syria. Raised in a catholic family in Antwerp as son of a mother who immigrated from Brazil, he even made headlines in Time magazine.

chaib  de mulder

The photograph was published on the Facebook account of Hicham Chaïb, another Syria fighter from the city of Antwerp, pictured on the left of De Mulder. Also known as ‘Abu Haniefa’ and ‘Muhajirien As Shaam’, he was part of the triumvirate that took the lead of Shariah4Belgium after it’s founder Fouad Belkacem (a.k.a. Abu Imran) was imprisoned in Belgium.

Chaïb is the only one of those three still alive. Noureddine Abouallal (a.k.a. Abou Mujahid) died last summer while fighting in Syria, and Feisal Yamoun (a.k.a. Abu Faris) was killed there last week. According to the Belgian newspaper ‘Het Nieuwsblad‘, security services considered the latter far more important in Shariah4Belgium than public face Belkacem, especially for the recruitement of Syria fighters.

Where the picture of De Mulder and Chaïb was taken — and whether they have fought on the side of Abouallal and Yamoun — isn’t clear. “On the lookout for the sake of Allah’, is the only comment. De Mulder has long been active on Facebook under the alias ‘Abu Qasem Brazili’, but a few weeks ago his account disappeared. It isn’t clear whether De Mulder still communicates with extremists in Belgium, but judging by the 50+ likes his new picture got in about an hour, his popularity there has only increased.


First pictures of a Shariah4Belgium leader fighting in Syria

On the internet, photos appeared of a former Shariah4Belgium leader now fighting in Syria. Pictured is Hicham Chaib, who was living in Antwerp and is known as ‘Abu Haniefa’.

He used to be the bodyguard of Shariah4Belgium founder Fouad Belkacem and belonged to the trio that took the lead after Belkacem was arrested. Last year, Chaib spent two months behind bars for his hate speech and disorderly conduct during riots in the Antwerp neighborhood of Borgerhout.

It was already known he traveled to Syria after his release. But the pictures showing him with a kalashnikov assault rifle are the first of a prominent Shariah4Belgium member coming out of Syria. The two other secondants of Belkacem also went to Syria. Abouallal Noureddine (aka ‘Abou Mujahid’) was killed there in July, while Feisal Yamoun (aka ‘Abu Faris’) hasn’t been heard of recently.

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One of the leaders of Shariah4Belgium killed in Syria

One of the leaders of the disbanded extremist group ‘Shariah4Belgium’ has died in Syria, according to his wife who followed her husband of Moroccan descent Noureddine Abouallal (23) last April to the war zone with their two year old son.

 

Tatiana Wielandt (21) broke the news in a phone call to her sister in Belgium. She only told that Abouallal — nom de guerre ‘Abou Mujahid’ — has died last Wednesday after he was shot. Her sister Jessica can call Tatiana every now and then, she admitted in an interview published last week in the Belgian daily ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’. “But she doesn’t tell me much, fearing that the security services are intercepting our calls.”

 

According to Tatiana’s father Frank, the family doesn’t even know for sure whether she is in Syria now, or at the Turkish border as she told after her sudden disappearance earlier this year. “But the possibility that she and her son are on their own now in the war zone, truly is unbearable”, he told.

 

Abouallal’s sister was Tatiana’s best friend. And because her parents couldn’t afford vacations abroad, they allowed Tatiana to join the Abouallal family spending their summer holidays in Morocco. There she fell in love with him. At 18, she converted to islam and married him.

 

For the teenager Abouallal, religion wasn’t important at all. About nine years ago, he told on his Netlog account that he was interested in soccer, swimming and partying. He made no secret of his desire to fall in love. “Hello, girls”, he wrote, “I am a bit chubby, but when I am on your side, you won’t regret it for sure.”

 

According to Tatiana’s mother, he only radicalized after their marriage. “When we first met him, he was a modern guy in jeans who had a decent job. But soon after their wedding, he started to wear traditional robes, grew his beard and lost his job.” They called their son Mujahid — ‘fighter’ — and on his Facebook page, Abouallal expressed the hope that his child once would make that name come true.

 

Abouallal came in the picture as one of the leaders of Shariah4Belgium after founder and mouthpiece of the organization Fouad Belkacem — a.k.a. ‘Abu Imran’ — was jailed in June 2012. At the press conference criticizing that arrest, Abouallal told that Shariah4Belgium never would stop, but instead destroy the Belgian democracy.

 

In November 2012, he too was arrested a while — after an investigation was opened into possible terrorist activities of Shariah4Belgium. But he was released the same day — and shortly after that, Abouallal left the country to join a radical muslim militia in Syria.

 

noureddine abouallal

Noureddine Abouallal, a.k.a. ‘Abou Mujahid’, demonstrating against democracy with the slogan: ‘Don’t vote – stay muslim’