The terrorism trial for the so called “Syrian cell”, in the 49th chamber of the Brussels Correctional Tribunal, started on Thursday morning. However, at around 10.30am, the president adjourned the session until Thursday evening, as some of the defendants couldn’t be brought to the Brussels Courthouse. This case concerns sending and training candidates for armed Jihad in Syria. The thirty-two men and women on trial are charged with participating in sending Jihadist fighters to Syria, or having organised their departure. This means they are also charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist organisation, as a member or leader. Some of the defendants are not present, as they are still in Syria or were killed in the fighting.
Khalid Z., 41, from Molenbeek, is considered the main defendant. The investigators think he was one of the main recruiters. He spread propaganda in sports clubs and arranged meetings in “cellar mosques”, improvised places to pray.
Khalid Z. is thought to have particularly targeted young Muslim Belgians, to try and convince them to join Jihad.
In prison, he continued trying to recruit candidates for Jihad, which was why he was placed in isolation. The suspect denies being involved in numerous young men from Brussels leaving for Syria over the last few years.