The mother of two young men who left Belgium to go to fight in Syria is bringing a lawsuit claiming damages from the Belgian state for not taking measures to stop them. One of the sons died in a drone attack while in Syria.
Zacharia, at 23 years old the elder of the two sons of the mother, who has not been named, left their home in Vilvoorde in January 2013 to go to Syria a second time, after a brief visit in 2012. During his return home, he had tried to convince his younger brother Ismael, 16, to go along. Their mother went to the police in Vilvoorde for help with her minor son, but the officer she saw said there was nothing they could do.
Vilvoorde saw more young men depart to fight in Syria than any other commune in Belgium, counting per head of population. Both brothers had come under the influence of hate preacher Jean-Louis Denis, in the news lately after being banned for a month from the commune of Molenbeek.
She reported her fears about her younger son when she visited the police station again to sign her declaration, with the same response. The very next day, Ismael left for Syria along with a friend from their school in Schaerbeek.
That was the last she heard from her sons until news of Zacharia’s death reached her in 2017. She began legal action in April this year.
“It is very surprising that an unaccompanied minor could get on board a flight at Zaventem alone, heading for a sensitive destination like Istanbul. There clearly was an error regarding identity checks before boarding,” commented her lawyer, Alexis Deswaef. He blamed “The faults in the behaviour of police, customs, magistrates and consular services” and filed a claim for €10,000 for moral damages and €50,000 for material damages. He also filed a motion to have telephone taps on the phone of the younger brother to be added to the case file. The boy’s phone had been tapped since the departure in January 2013.