Tuesday, 21 April 2015
The second judiciary enquiry into Khalid Zerkani, one of the main people recruiting young Belgians for Syria, has closed, the federal Prosecutor said on Monday. The Brussels Indictment Division approved the unusual research methods used during the inquiry. There are around 15 other suspects apart from Khalid Zerkani, including brothers Othman and Mohamed Akzinnay, and their brother-in-law Elias K. According to the federal Prosecutor’s office, the suspects recruited young people to join the fight in Syria between 2012 and the beginning of 2014. They also helped prospective candidates to leave Belgium. Brothers Othman and Mohamed Akzinnay, from Brussels, even drove several young men to Dusseldorf airport. Their brother-in-law Elias K, who runs an Islamic bookshop, physically trained young people during weekends away near the coast. These camps took place in old bunkers near the royal villa in Ostende.
Youssef B., another 19 year old suspect close to Khalid Zerkani, had iPods containing video messages from jihadists and several foreign (mainly Moroccan) passports in his possession when he was arrested. He is suspected of stealing of falsifying the documents to help jihadist candidates leave Belgium. The investigators also found a case full of money, which corresponds to sums stolen during numerous thefts at the Midi station in the capital. This money would have been used to pay for departures to Syria. During a discussion with an undercover agent, Youssef B. said he would be willing to commit a suicide-attack on a Christian place.
A network constructed around the Akzinnay brothers and Khalid Zerkani was dismantled at the end of February 2014. During the week of the 21st to the 28th of February, Brussels federal judicial police searched 55 houses and questioned 74 people. They were working with colleagues located throughout the country, including 11 local police units
Three inquiries were performed, two of them into the recruiter Khalid Zerkani. These inquiries are now closed.
The third inquiry led to the Brussels Council Chamber putting 17 people before the Correctional Tribunal. The trial date has not yet been fixed.