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Belgian combatant interviewed in Syria unmasked

The Belgian fighter interviewed in Idleb, Syria, by the Arabic TV channel Al Aan is known to the Belgian security services. He is Youssef Khaldi, a longtime militant of Sharia4Belgium, according to De Morgen newspaper, which published the information on Monday.

Two weeks ago, Khaldi and two other foreign fighters, speaking anonymously, told Al Aan from Idleb, in northwestern Syria, that they were cooperating independently with Islamic factions on the ground.

What is known about the Belgian combatant is that he had fought briefly for the Islamic State terror group and the al-Nostra Front. He gave his name as Abu Abdul Rahman al-Belgiqi in the interview.

Thanks to a judicial source, De Morgen obtained confirmation that the person was, in fact, Youssef Khaldi, 35 years old, from Antwerp. He went to Syria in 2013, part of the first wave of fighters to leave for the Middle Eastern country.

Khaldi was also one of the first militants of the group Sharia4Belgium, led by Fouad Belkacem, who incited young people to leave for the Syrian front and was convicted in a terrorism trial in 2015.

The Brussels Times