Sharia4Belgium – Prosecution details objectives and activities of alleged terrorist group
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
On Monday, before the Antwerp Criminal Court, the federal prosecutor stated that the objectives of Sharia4Belgium were to destroy democracy and establish an Islamic state. Still according to the prosecution, in order to achieve its goals, Sharia4Belgium focused on five activities: dissemination of ideology via the Internet and social networks, recruiting young Muslims through street sermons, indoctrination through ideological and physical training, violent crimes in Belgium and the armed struggle in Syria. These activities were planned from an apartment in Antwerp, which served as Sharia4Belgium headquarters. Five theoretical or physical sessions were held each week. Attending meetings, which also included combat training, was mandatory for members or they would be penalized
The young people were taught the Salfi principles. On Monday, the prosecution read the testimony of the mother of Jejoen Bontinck, member of the party organization in Syria, as well as that of a father whose three children left to fight in Syria. He told investigators that his boys had been “brainwashed” by Sharia4Belgium.
Jejoen Bontinck himself had made similar statements during his hearing. “Belkacem was my spiritual father; the way he spoke was unique. I was completely sucked in by the organization and its ideas. I would never have gone to Syria if hadn’t been for that.”
The prosecution went on to explain that after these recruits were well versed in the ideological discourse, they then began to take part in violent actions. The small group was first noticed in March 2010, when they disrupted a reading by Dutch author Benno Barnard at the University of Antwerp. Other events followed, such as clashes with police after a street sermon in December 2011, the problem with the identity check of a woman wearing the niqab in Molenbeek in May 2012 or the protests against the film “innocence of Muslims” in September 2012 in Antwerp.
From August 2012, all the leaders and most members of the small group – except Fouad Belkacem – went to fight in Syria.