”10 years ago, this undercover reporter warned of terror hotbed in Brussels

Hind Fraihi: “I think the authorities didn’t want to believe what was happening here. They didn’t want to understand”

Citat från: http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2016/03/25/10-years-ago-this-undercover-reporter-warned-of-radicalization-in-molenbeek/

hind-fraihi

She blew the lid off the epicenter of European jihadism 11 years ago by going undercover in Molenbeek, exposing the “little Morocco” situated just minutes from the center of Brussels as a hotbed of extremist preachers and recruiters.

But it is only since the Paris attacks in November, and this week’s terrorist carnage in Brussels that journalist Hind Fraihi is being widely hailed for the remarkable investigative work that she says “neglectful” authorities and Belgian society have failed to act upon.

In 2005, the Flemish-speaking Belgian reporter of Moroccan origin decided to see for herself how and why Molenbeek was becoming a magnet for Islamist imams and sheiks recruiting candidates for jihad in places like Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq.

She spent three months living in rented accommodation in the area, posing as a student. The result was a book Undercover in Little Morocco, also published as Inflitrated: Among the radical Islamists. It was recently translated and published in France as Immersion in Molenbeek, in which she recounts how Islamist preachers were spreading their radical and murderous ideas to young people from the same generation as the terrorists that struck Paris and Brussels in November and March.

For her efforts at the time she was attacked as Islamophobic and racist, however Belgians are realizing belatedly how prescient and accurate her portrayal of the now-notorious neighborhood was. “If I had presented myself as a journalist, I would have gotten no information,” she said in an interview with French magazine Marianne. “In this type of place, these neighborhoods, when you are a journalist they ridicule you and believe you are part of the Zionist camp and that you are against Muslims. So I infiltrated their world as a sociology student…and what did I say?

“That Molenbeek is an enclave, and a society within a society. These people are very distant from us in Western society. They are focused on the Middle East or Morocco. For example when I asked ‘Who is Guy Verhofstadt’ no one knew how to respond. It was our prime minister.”

 

”The author points to the Centre Islamique belge (Belgian Islamic Center) founded in 1997 and directed by Ayachi that was known as a center for jihadist recruitment. “The federal government knew, but they only cut back on a part of its activities without ever definitively closing it. Has Belgium become a land of jihad? It has been for a long time.

“The connections between Molenbeek from the Madrid attacks (of March 2004) to the Brussels Jewish Museum (May 2014) to the attempted attack in the Thalys train (2015) are old stories. We must remember also that a large contingent of Belgians have left to wage jihad in Syria. We should have set off the alarm bells earlier”.

Undercover in Little Morocco, published first as a series in a Flemish newspaper and then as a book, offered one of the first considered examinations of the blurred lines between petty and serious crime and violent jihadism and terrorism. “

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