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    Sharia4Belgium- “Belkacem was the ringleader”

    On Monday, after informing the Antwerp Criminal Court on the ideology, objectives and activities of Sharia4Belgium, the prosecution then detailed the role played by each of the 46 defendants in the small group charged with terrorism. Fouad Belkacem was the undisputed ringleader; he was the founder, spokesperson, preacher and the contact person for similar foreign groups. Fouad Belkacem played a leading role in each of the group’s activities. Spreading the Salafist ideology, he recruited members and took charge of their indoctrination. Defendants Jejoen Bontinck, Elias T. and L. Walid recounted how they had been inspired by his style of preaching and said they saw him as a spiritual father.

    He was also behind certain violent activities. After the niqab incident, he encouraged his young recruits to attack the Molenbeek (Brussels) police station on May 31st, 2012.  Prosecutors believe that he incited hatred and violence which resulted in the massive departures to Syria.

    Other defendants described Fouad Belkacem as the undisputed leader of the group.  Belkacem acknowledged at the inquiry that he had founded Sharia4Belgium, but denied any violence or combat training. He considers the videos calling for jihad as pure theology and simple provocation and denied enlisting people to go to Syria.

    During the hearings, Fouad Belkacem adopted a provocative tone and insulted the investigators.

    Bilal E. M. also appeared in court bringing the total of defendants who were physically present to nine.

    Maria Nowak (Source: Belga)