A young 22-year-old Muslim from Brussels was identified in photos published by Dutch media last week showing the presence of jihadist training camps in the Ardennes. After previously publishing anonymously in the columns of ‘SudPress’, the man then categorically denied allegations to the Belga news agency on Monday that he had trained in the Ardennes and that he was a jihadist. He explained he played airsoft, a discipline that simulates a battle and uses replica firearms firing plastic bullets. He states the photos in which he appears, published in the press, were taken in Villers-la-Ville, in the Walloon Brabant province, and not in the Ardennes as claimed by ‘Het Nieuwsblad’ and ‘De Standaard’. The Dutch dailies that had revealed that jihadists were training in the Ardennes had based their story on photos posted by Abd Al Wadoud Abu Daoud, a Brussels man know to preach in favor of the Salafi movement. The 22-year-old man admits to knowing Abd Al Wadoud Abu Daoud, stating he met him 3 times during airsoft games and communicated a couple of times with him on Facebook. He specified he had never, however, met him outside the airsoft sessions.
The young man expressed his confusion after the publication of his photo that was also later broadcast in the international media. Since Friday, he has been waiting for the go ahead from his employer, who recognized him on one of the photos in the press, to come back to his fixed term contract work. He says he has been subject to death threats on various Internet forums.
On Monday, Muslims’ Rights Belgium, an organization which presents itself as fighting islamophobia, said it had filed complaints with both the ‘Journalistic Code of Ethics Council’ and the ‘Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities’. “This story had everything needed for it to go from a scoop to a scandal: ‘Muslims’, ‘weapons’ and ‘camps’, with the exception,” she commented, “that the photos had been taken in Walloon Brabant during a game of airsoft between players of various origins and faiths.”
Oscar Schneider (Source: Belga)