An update onÂ this story.Â
Belgium: “Internet jihadist” nabbed in raids on al-Qaeda suspects
Malika El-Aroud, apparently
Yes,Â thatÂ Malika El-Aroud (with highly appropriate “red-eye” in the photo): The oneÂ collecting $1100 a monthÂ in unemployment benefits while agitating for jihad online.
(CNN) — Belgian police Thursday arrested a woman they called an “al-Qaeda living legend” as part of an operation to thwart a terror attack being planned to coincide with an EU summit in Brussels, a Belgian police source told CNN.
Police seized 14 people, one of whom was planning to carry out a suicide attack in Belgium, the source said. They had contacts at the “highest levels of al-Qaeda,” the source said.
The police source said officers “had only 24 hours to act.”
The leaders of the European Union’s 27 member states are meeting in Brussels Thursday and Friday. It is not clear that the heads of state and government themselves were the target of the planned attack.
The federal prosecutor’s office in Belgium identified one of the suspects as Malika El-Aroud, the widow of one of the men who assassinated a key opponent of the Taliban in Afghanistan two days before September 11, 2001.
El-Aroud’s late husband was one of two men who killed Ahmed Shah Massoud, a leader of the Northern Alliance, in a suicide mission ordered by Osama Bin Laden.
Belgian police aimed to prevent El-Aroud, whom the police source called an “al-Qaeda living legend,” from moving to Afghanistan to play a role in the fight against the coalition forces there, the source said.
She is thought to be a recruiter for the anti-Western network, rather than a fighter, the source said.
El-Aroud described the “love” she and her late husband felt for Osama bin Laden in a 2006 interview with CNN.
“Most Muslims love Osama. It was he who helped the oppressed. It was he who stood up against the biggest enemy in the world, the United States. We love him for that,” she told CNN then.
Gazing into CNN’s cameras she said, “It’s the pinnacle in Islam to be the widow of a martyr. For a woman it’s extraordinary.””Most of those arrested” Thursday had Belgian passports, the police source said. All 14 are of Moroccan descent.
* Belgium is one of these countries that used to hand passports to third world parasites like confetti. If anything has changed, please let us know..?
Three of the suspects had traveled to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region to participate in fighting or training camps, and were in contact with an unnamed suspect who had direct links to important al-Qaeda figures, police said.
Two of those three returned to Belgium several months ago and started surveillance operations, and the third returned to Belgium a week ago, police said. Intelligence showed that third person was ready to carry out a suicide attack, police said.
Information showed the suspect who was to carry out the attack had received the green light to execute the operation, police said. Investigators noted the suspect had said goodbye to his family “because he wanted to go to paradise with a clear conscience,” police said.
Authorities also found a video meant for the suspect’s family, which police said was probably a farewell tape. They did not find any explosives, the police said in a statement.
The 14 suspects were arrested after police carried out 16 search warrants in Brussels and one in the western Belgian city of Liege. During those searches, police seized computer equipment and documents and the 14 people, including the three who traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan and 11 others suspected of having given them logistical and material support.
Police said their investigation has been under way intensively since the end of 2007.
What you guessed about the Belgian arrests
The hard fact is that you knew the faith and cause of the alleged terrorists arrested in Brussels even before you had to be told:
FOURTEEN suspected al-Qaeda terrorists were detained in Brussels todayÂ before Gordon Brown was due to meet EU leaders. The sweep came just hours before a summit brought together the heads of the 27 EU countries in Brussels.
This, in a city with such a large Muslim minority thatÂ 13 of the 47 city councilors have Muslim names.
I must point out that most Muslims are undoubtedly peaceful. If that were not so, we’d hear of many, many more incidents. But it’s also clear there areÂ fault lines dividing Belgium’s 500,00 Muslims from the rest of the population:
There are clear differences between the level of education of native Belgians and of Muslims in Belgium..Similarly, the test results for students in Belgian French-speaking classes reveal the low attainment of both children of the first generation of immigrants and of those born outside Belgium, in comparison with that of the native Belgian children… In employment, Muslims are overrepresented in precarious jobs, working in poor conditions for low wages… The employment rate for Moroccans and Turks is three times lower than that of the majority of Belgian population… Muslims are more likely than native Belgians to live in segregated and disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
What will happen next? The US National Intelligence Council in itsÂ Global Trends 2025Â report warns of even more tension than we’ve seen so far:Â
Western Europe’s Muslim population currently totals between 15 and 18 million… If current patterns of immigration and Muslim residents’ above-average fertility continue, Western Europe could have 25 to 30 million Muslims by 2025.
Countries with growing numbers of Muslims will experience a rapid shift in ethnic composition, particularly around urban areas, potentially complicating efforts to facilitate assimilation and integration. Economic opportunities are likely to be greater in urban areas, but, in the absence of growth in suitable jobs, the increasing concentration could lead to more tense and unstable situations, such as occurred with the 2005 Paris surburban riots…
Despite a sizeable stratum of integrated Muslims, a growing numberâ€”driven by a sense of alienation, grievance, and injusticeâ€”are increasingly likely to value separation in areas with Muslim-specific cultural and religious practices….Â