About half of the Belgian fighters who have left to Syria and Iraq had a criminal record before their departure, indicates newspaper La Libre Belgique on Friday. This is based on information received by the federal prosecutor. “Most have been prosecuted for thefts and physical assaults”, says the spokesperson of the magistrate, Eric Van der Sijpt. “The majority have a past with the common law”, commented Alain Grignard, expert on anti-terrorism at the federal police. “The vast majority are offenders convicted of pickpocketing and robberies.”
The number of Belgians who choose to go and fight in Iraq and Syria for the Islamic State group are decreasing, reports Le Soir on Friday. In the end of 2014, there were about a dozen Belgians leaving to join the terrorist group each month, today they count no more than 5 per month. Currently, around 260 Belgians fight in Iraq and Syria.