This Thursday, before Brussels criminal court, one of the main defendants in the terrorism case now known as “the Syrian connection,” Khalid Z., challenged the accusation that he recruited young people from Brussels to go and fight in Syria. Thirty-two people are being tried in the terrorism case regarding the recruitment and military training of candidates for the armed jihad in Syria. Khalid Z., a 41-year-old from Molenbeek, denies he ever recruited boys and young men to travel to Syria to join the jihadist army. The investigation, however, indicated the defendant recruited people as they were coming out of the mosque on Chaussée de Jette. The judge also questioned the accused about his income and stolen goods found in connection with him, and which allegedly financed jihadist propaganda and enabled several young people to get to Syria.
According to the investigation, Khalid Z. could justify no official income since 2010 and was arrested for having snatched a gold chain and for handling stolen goods. He was questioned by police when he was discovered in a car containing various objects, such as mobile phones and smartphones. The mother of Mohamed H., one of the youths who went to fight in Syria, was in the vehicle with Khalid Z. Mohamed H. and his mother are also appearing in court.
Thirty-two people are currently on trial for having participated in, or led, the recruitment and dispatch of jihadist fighters to Syria, and therefore for participation in a terrorist organisation, either as member or leader. Some of them are also being prosecuted for traveling to Syria to fight alongside the jihadists. Certain defendants failed to show up to court, choosing to stay in Syria or having been killed in the fight.