How a Belgian teenager was lured to jihad?

How a Belgian teenager was lured to jihad?

Last month, jihadist group Islamic State (IS) claimed that Abdelmalek Boutalliss had blown himself up in Iraq.

Originally from the Belgian city of Kortrijk, he had been preparing for his exams when he told his mother, “Don’t expect me for dinner”.

The next day he sent her a photo from Turkey of him with his best friend, saying he was heading to Syria.

One of hundreds of young Belgians lured by IS to Syria and Iraq, he was given the nom de guerre Abu Nusaybah al-Baljiki. His family are Berbers, an ethnic group from North Africa.

Idriss Boutalliss followed his son to Syria twice, in a desperate attempt to bring him back.

On the second occasion, after a 10-day search, he finally managed to meet him near Raqqa – the self-proclaimed capital of IS.

Abdelmalek refused to leave, telling his father that he would be jailed immediately if he returned to Belgium.

“I spoke to the police and they assured me if you return you will not go to prison,” his father told him. But the teenager said he was lying.

Many young European men have been lured by IS via the internet but Abdelmalek Boutalliss was recruited locally in Belgium.

His mother, Najat, said he had begun to show interest in Islam when a teacher began asking him about the religion.

At that point he started visiting a local mosque and his family thinks he was recruited there by a jihadist who had previously fought in Syria.

Young Muslims are still being radicalised in Belgium.

Observers believe they feel alienated from society and angered by Western involvement in Syria.

Since October, the number of Belgian jihadists has risen by 39, according to Belgian expert Pieter Van Ostaeyen.

Last month, 130 people died in co-ordinated attacks claimed by IS on a concert hall, cafes, restaurants and a stadium in Paris.

Several Belgian jihadists took part in the atrocities and the suspected ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud came from the Brussels district of Molenbeek.

Three days before the attacks, on 10 November, IS militants announced that the Belgian teenager they had dubbed Abu Nusaybah al-Baljiki had carried out a suicide attack in Haditha in western Iraq.

IS said he had destroyed three Iraqi military vehicles and killed everyone inside. Iraqi officials insisted his attack had been foiled and he blew himself up some distance from the vehicles.

Whether or not Abdelmalek Boutallis committed murder in western Iraq, his mother Najat still refuses to believe he is dead.

Source: BBC