Belgian jihadist presumed dead seen on film in Syrian prison

Belgian jihadist presumed dead seen on film in Syrian prison
Credit: © Belga

A Belgian jihadist who issued violent threats towards Belgium and who was long suspected dead has been filmed alive inside a high-security prison in Syria.

Video footage broadcast by American news chain CBS shows several men behind bars inside a prison in Syria ran by Kurdish militias, who played a central role in the defeat of the Islamic State in the region.

"I come from Belgium," one of the prisoners in the video says to the reporter.

Several sources have identified that prisoner as 24-year-old Abdellah Nouamane, an Antwerp member of the radical group Sharia4Belgium who left for Syria in 2013, Le Soir reports.

Nouamane, presumed dead until March of this year, is well known for having issued brutal threats towards his home country in 2015.

"All of Belgium will go up in smoke," he said in an audio file obtained that year, according to the Francophone paper. "Libraries, schools, hospitals... We will no longer take innocent victims into account," the message continued.

Nouamane, who went by the name Abu Jihad Al-Belgiki in Syria, has already been sentenced to prison in absentia. He received five years for belonging to a terrorist group, topped with an additional five for planning to commit an attack.

The jihadist was declared dead several times, and even his mother —who became politically active and campaigns against radicalisation—believed her son was dead, according to HLN.

The footage confirms the rumours that he was alive and being held in the Kurdish-controlled prison, which is said to be one of the most secure ones in Syria.

Kurdish fighters and international leaders have warned that they cannot hold foreign fighters indefinitely, warning of prison break attempts, after an escape attempt was thwarted in April of this year.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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