Belgian fighters in Syria plotting revenge on former comrades who talked to police

Shariah4Belgium fighters in Syria have started retaliation against former brothers in arms who went home and cooperated with the police, the Belgian daily ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ reports today. The extremists published an incriminating video about such a ‘traitor’ and even say he beheaded several people.

Belgian fighter Elias Taketloune in a recently distributed video from Syria

Belgian fighter Elias Taketloune in a recently distributed video from Syria

23 years old Elias Taketloune was in Syria from November 2012 until May 2013. He came back after his wife had given birth to their first child at home — a son named Shaheed. Shortly after his arrival, he turned himself in to the police. In the first interrogations, he declared that he only had been active as a humanitarian worker in Syria. The certificate from the Syrian Red Crescent that he submitted as evidence however, turned out to be false. As a result of that, he’s not only indicted for leadership of a terrorist organization at the current trial against Shariah4Belgium in Antwerp, but for forgery too.

During his later interrogations, Taketloune admitted that he did participate in the armed struggle in Syria. “But only twice”, he said. “The first time, I was positioned in the back line, responsible for receiving the wounded. The second time, my job was to reload an anti-aircraft gun if needed. But it wasn’t used that day.” So, according to his own declarations, Taketloune has never fired a gun. “I even didn’t carry a kalashnikov”, he told. “I couldn’t afford it. I only had a hand gun.”

But the short video some of Taketloune’s former comrades brought out, proves that he was much more of a fighter than that. It shows Taketloune behind the wheel of a car, with a kalashnikov visible between his body and the driver’s door — clearly indicating that the weapon was his. Moreover, he tells to the camera: “We are fighting for the cause of Allah. We’re all here because there is no other God than he. And inch’allah, it will be all over the world. I swear, you hypocrites, we’re on our way to start with you!”

The video appeared a few days ago on the Facebook page of Houdaifa Ammi, a fighter in the ranks of the Islamic State coming from Taketloune’s hometown Vilvoorde, near the Belgian capital Brussels. He calls his former comrade by his fighter’s name ‘Abu Shaheed’ and seems to pay him great respect. “How many battlefields we’ve done together”, Ammi writes. “A lion in the front line.” Taketloune’s lawyer flatly denied the guy in the video is his client when asked for a reaction, but several other sources confirmed it certainly is Elias Taketloune.

In the meantime, heavier charges were added to the video. “Abu Shaheed was a good shooter”, another Belgian fighter in Syria — Abdelmajid Gharmaoui, also indicted at the trial in Antwerp — reacted shortly after the movie was posted. “It has always been his dream to perform a martyr’s operation and I do remember his first decapitation in Sheikh Soleyman, after he drew the long straw.” Whether this last allegation is true, it is difficult to say. As far as we know, the Belgian judiciary hasn’t any evidence that Taketloune committed crimes like that. His name isn’t mentioned on the list of Shariah4Belgium people that can be tried for murders at a later stage, and he’s awaiting his sentence as a free man.

The fact that sympathizers of the Syria fighters from Vilvoorde already have tried to sell the video of Taketloune to several Belgian media — an offer ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ refused — indicates an orchestrated campaign. Those sympathizers consider Taketloune as a traitor because he talked to the police. By bringing out the video, they hope to contribute to a heavier sentence for him. Recently, a similar thing has happened to Jejoen Bontinck, another returnee from Syria who cooperated with the police. He was accused of having executed a Syrian soldier in a Facebook post coming from the extremist circles he once belonged to himself.


“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.


Convicted European top terrorist Abdelkader Hakimi has traveled to Syria

One of the most notorious terrorists ever known in Belgium, has surfaced on the Syrian front. Abdelkader Hakimi (48) — once supposed to be the European leader of the ‘Groupe Islamique Combattant Marocain’ and named as one of the brains behind the deadly bombing in Madrid of March 11, 2004 — is befriending young recruits of Shariah4Belgium now.

Screenshot of Hakimi's actual Facebook page.

Screenshot of Hakimi’s actual Facebook page.

The flood of Belgian fighters going to Syria until now consisted mainly of young and unexperienced recruits. People who came never into contact with real terrorism yet and were still children when the west was hit by bloody attacks like those of 9/11 in the United States. The remnants of the underground cells that formed the operational core of Al Qaeda those days — and often had ramifications into Belgium — didn’t seem to join the Syrian jihad. But that is changing now.

In April of last year already, Belgian media reported that Rachid Iba (34) had left his town Maaseik to fight in Syria. In 2006, Iba was convicted as a member of the ‘Groupe Islamique Combattant Marocain’ (GICM), a terrorist organization that later would become part of ‘Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’ (AQIM). At that time, it was already named as perpetrator of the bombings at Atocha railway station in the Spanish capital Madrid, were 191 people were killed in 2004. At the proces against the Belgian cell of GICM, Iba wasn’t considered a heavyweight. He got three years of which two suspended and was free again soon afterwards.

That wasn’t the case for Abdelkader Hakimi, who was seen as the European leader within GICM and whose contacts reached as far as the inmate population of Guantánamo Bay. In the eighties already, he was sentenced to death in his native Morocco, and being on the run for many years, he lived in Algeria, Libya, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Botswana using several false identities. According to intelligence services, he has fought on the side of muslim extremists in the Bosnian war, and reportedly he also got a terrorist training in Afghanistan.

In Morocco, he’s suspected of complicity in the Casablanca bombings that killed 45 people on May 16, 2003. He is also considered as one of the architects of the bloody attack by GICM in Madrid, that reportedly was partly planned during a meeting with French and Spanish GICM members in the quiet Belgian town of Maaseik. With that resume, Hakimi certainly ranks as one of the most dangerous islamic terrorists that ever appeared in a Belgian court. He got eight years and had to stay behind the bars until the end of 2011.

After he got out of jail, he settled in Brussels with his wife, according to media reports. At that time his lawyer said Hakimi had become “a completely different person”. But his Facebook account that the Belgian newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ discovered recently — and that is linked to genuine former comrades — shows little proof of that. It contains a picture of the late Osama bin Laden, surrounded by heavy weapons of war. His profile picture is showing him at the time of his trial, blindfolded and surrounded by cops during the transport from his cell to the court — as if he’s proud of being convicted.

The most intriguing detail however, are the snapshots that he posted in April this year — made out of a car in the war torn suburbs of Aleppo, the northern Syrian city that has long been under control of extremist groups. It is not clear how long Hakimi has been in Aleppo, nor whether he still is in Syria. The Facebook page doesn’t give any detail about his activities there, but his friends list may be a reason to worry. It clearly shows that he is forging ties with young western fighters on the Syrian front.

One of his actual friends is the Belgian ISIS fighter Azeddine Kbir Bounekoub (21, a.k.a. ‘Abu Gastbijshaam’), the guy that only last week has called for more attacks in Belgium, explicitly referring to the brutal murder of four people in the Brussels Jewish Museum. Belgian security services are rightly concerned about an extremist like Bounekoub returning home, and their fear should grow now that his links with a seasoned Al Qaeda operative are established. People like Hakimi can pass decades of experience in the world wide terrorism to the young foreign fighters, learn them all the tricks needed to commit an attack and introduce them in a network that has proved it’s bloody clout already several times.

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30th Belgian killed in Syria turns out to be Shariah4Belgium member again

Last weekend, Syria watcher Pieter Van Ostaeyen announced the death of the 30th Belgian foreign fighter on his Twitter account. But the identity of ‘Abu Sayyaf’, as the man was called, remained unknown.

Picture of Nabil Azahaf posted by companions after his death

Picture of Nabil Azahaf posted by companions after his death

Today the Belgian newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ revealed his true name and a bit of background. ISIS fighter ‘Abu Sayyaf’ or ‘Abu Sayeef’ turns out to be Nabil Azahaf, 21 years old and coming from the Brussels community of Saint Josse ten Noode. He is mentioned in the affidavit with which the public prosection has asked for a trial against 46 members of the now disbanded organization Shariah4Belgium, suspected of recruitment for the Syrian war.

Apart from being a member of a terrorist organization, Azahaf is also accused of complicity in kidnappings and murders in Syria. As far as known, those accusations are based on internet videos and testimony of Jejoen Bontinck, a fighter who says that he was abducted by his former comrades in Syria because he wanted to leave, escaped to Belgium and cooperated with the police.

Of the 46 people listed in the affidavit mentioned above, at least nine are killed in Syria now. Because their is no legal proof of death however, the complaints against them continue to exist. Before he went to Syria, Azahaf was active in martial arts, as much of his companions were. He practised Thai boxing in Brussels as a member of ‘Team AFC’.

Picture that appeared on Azahaf's Facebook account in 2011.

Picture that appeared on Azahaf’s Facebook account in 2011.


29th Belgian fighter who died in Syria identified

Today, the Belgian newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ identified the 29th Belgian fighter who has died in Syria. Khalid Bali was 17 years old and lost his brother Mohammed last year already in the Syrian war.

“Breaking news: six fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham became martyrs last night near Deir Ez-Zor”, the Belgian ISIS member Hicham Chaïb — a.k.a. Abu Haniefa — announced last Sunday on his Facebook account. “One of them is Abu Hamza Al-Belgiki and another one Abu Usama Al-Hollandi. May Allah accept them as martyrs and grant them the highest rank in paradise!”

No further details were given about the identities of the deceased, but journalists from the Belgian newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ quickly discovered their compatriot was Khalid Bali, a teenager from the Antwerp suburb of Merksem who would have turned 18 at the end of July. Bali’s older brother Mohammed was one of the early members of Shariah4Belgium, an organization of radical muslims that is associated with a fair big amount Belgian fighters who went to Syria.

Reportedly, it was Mohammed who introduced the now imprisoned leader of Shariah4Belgium, Fouad Belkacem, to Brian De Mulder — the Flemish boy with a Brazilian mother who was raised as a christian, but became one of the most famous European fighters in Syria. Mohammed himself was killed in September 2013 near Homs at the age of 23. That same month, Khalid urged his comrades in Belgium to join him in a lengthy Facebook post.

“There’s nothing we can do in Belgium”, he wrote. “These days we are obliged to make hijra and revive our religion as in the time of our Prophet. That is only possible when we stand up and give our lives for Allah. This life is worth nothing, it is only a short period in which Allah is testing us. Be strong and grab your faith with both hands. I have merely come to Syria to seek the satisfaction of our Lord. You should know this life is short, while the life hereafter will last forever.”

There are at least two other Belgians with the name Bali who went to Syria: Brahim and Abdelaziz (both 27). They were mentioned in an affidavit of the Antwerp prosecutor’s office, charging 46 members of Shariah4Belgium with terrorist offences for recruiting or joining the jihad in Syria. Brahim and Abdelaziz are still supposed to be in Syria. Brahim appears to be a nephew of the deceased brothers. He was caught in Yemen while trying to join Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) back in 2012. After his expulsion to Belgium, he traveled to Syria with his wife Yasmina Zamrouni (23).

Belgian police meanwhile arrested two young women from Antwerp allegedly trying to leave for Syria. They were caught last week at Brussels Airport and are the first to be detained already in Belgium on the suspicion of wanting to join the jihad. Usually, it is very difficult to prove that intention. But thourough investigations, including telephone taps, seem to be sufficient in this case. The young women are 17 and 19 years old, one of them the sister of a young man already fighting in Syria, and according to extremist sources, their aliases are ‘Oum Abbas’ and ‘Oum Haneefa’.

UPDATE. Following details were released this morning about the two women by ‘Free Aseer Abu Imran’, the Facebook page supporting Shariah4Belgium leader Fouad Belkacem. The information is copy-pasted as published there:

“Oum Abbas is a young muslimconvert who had many trials from Allah Azzawadjal, but that she was not less firm. On the contrary, she was known for her strong will and Iman. And many sisters praise her for her fear of Allah (taqwa), honor and sincerity. That’s why Allah Azzawadjal chose her for this unique trial.

Oum Haneefa is the other dear sister, despite her young age, she had a huge ghierah for the deen that you rarely find these days with regular Muslims. She have been always active in helping and supporting the Muslims. She was known for her kheir towards the Muslim families of the usaraa (prisoners) and ofcourse the needy. If you were in need of something, she would be the first person you would like, whether it was her smile or phonecall or a visit to you. She was always there for you. And we wallahi we testify by Allah Azzawadjal that we will stand up for her, especially as she was always there for us, now that she’s a aseer.

From the Public Ministry is said they are arrested at the airport and they were prevented to travel to Turkey. They were as said on the radar and signaled to Interpol and that they were arrested immediately upon notification. Since then they are detained at the prison of Antwerp, Belgium. They were under suspicion in supporting the case of terrorism, because they supposedly were traveling to Syria.

May Allah ta3ala prevail the truth above all falsehood and lies.
For us, these sisters are truly innocent from the beginning till the end of this. Please keep share this information through your network and make alot of dua’a for them and all of the muslimprisoners.The exact age of the sisters is not mentioned, but from our sources we heard that they are around 18 years old. Oum Abbas is a belgian convert and Oum Haneefa is born in belgium with roots in Morocco.”


Female jihadi in Syria calls for assassination of Belgian far right politician

A Belgian woman who accompanied her husband to Syria for the jihad, calls for the assassination of far right politician Filip Dewinter. “May Allah enlighten our eyes with the slaughter of this swine.”

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Filip Dewinter, pictured above, is one of the leaders of Belgium’s far right party ‘Vlaams Belang’. He has angered muslims by presenting a game on the internet in which immigrants and muslims can be clubbed down. It is titled ‘Minder, Minder’ — ‘Fewer, Fewer’, a reference to the slogan his Dutch counterpart Geert Wilders recently used to promote the expulsion of foreigners.

Yesterday, already more than 50 people had filed an official complaint against Dewinter for his racism. But that didn’t please Umm Haniefa, the wife of a well known Belgian islamist. “Don’t you know that filing a complaint is against islam? A true muslim doesn’t lean upon kuffar in fighting other kuffar”, she decried on her Facebook page. “It would be better that a second Mohammed Bouyeri rises among you to deal with this pig as was dealt with the swine Theo van Gogh.”

Bouyeri was the Dutch muslim who ten years ago shot and stabbed to death film director van Gogh, known as an outspoken foe of islam. Umm Haniefa’s husband, Abu Haniefa, was one of the leaders of the now disbanded ‘Shariah4Belgium’. His real name is Hicham Chaïb and several months ago, he left his home town Antwerp with his wife to join the radical ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Shaam’ (ISIS). Apparently, they are in Ar-Raqqah now.

Politician Dewinter already announced that he will file a complaint against the woman.


Abou Handalah, the 27th Belgian fighter killed in Syria

As already mentioned on Twitter by the well informed Pieter Van Ostaeyen, another Belgian fighter has been killed in Syria. And on the same day, a new one arrived

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The dead Belgian apparently belonged to Jabhat al-Nusra and he was slain last friday while manning a lookout in Sheikh Najjar near Aleppo. His true identity remains unknown, but in the meantime a picture has surfaced on Facebook.

According to original poster ‘De Basis’ — a collective of Dutch and Belgian jihadis in Syria — the picture was taken the day before the fighter’s death. “He agreed to be filmed and photographed for a dawah project, and soon a video will be published showing more from him.”

Several comrades who knew him personally, already paid their respects. “A truly beautiful brother”, Abu Muhammad stated. “You should take a look at his mobile phone, because he wrote marvellous poems”, the Aleppo based fighter from the Dutch city of Den Haag elaborated.

His Belgian compatriot Abou Fudayl Shami yesterday wrote that the slain fighter was using the alias ‘Abou Handalah’ and will be deeply missed. “I can testify about your nobility and your commitment to jihad. I’ve seen how you proved that. May the mighty God give us more lions like you.”

According to Van Ostaeyen’s research, this fighter is the 27th Belgian who has died in Syria. There may be some double countings, but the list of the Belgian fighters who are/have been in Syria contains already 396 names.

The case of ‘Abou Sabir Al Belgiki’ proves that there are still new departures. That 24 year old from the Antwerp neighborhood of Borgerhout announced last friday on his Facebook account that he had reached his goal.

“Mother, I’m in Syria now. I can’t come back after all the efforts I’ve made. Allah would not forgive me and I hope you can accept that”, he wrote. Yesterday, he also posted some pictures on which he’s posing with a weapon.

Conversations with his comrades learn that his real first name is Fahd and an older picture on his Facebook account is showing his face. He seems to be of Moroccan descent and clearly is a supporter of the disbanded radical organization ‘Shariah4Belgium’.