Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Molenbeek Sees Continuous Radical Activity | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55369050

People walk in a street in the suburb of Molenbeek, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris on Friday, in Brussels, Belgium, November 17, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Brussels- Belgian authorities have carried out investigations on the ongoing activity of radicals seeking to diffuse extremist thoughts among youth of Molenbeek, dominated by a majority of Muslim migrants.

Many youths from this neighborhood were involved in the Paris attacks in November 2015 and the Brussels attacks in March 2016.

Media reports in the Belgian capital said that attempts to spread extremist ideology have targeted youngsters, some of them involved in criminal activities.

Speaking before the parliamentary enquiry committee on the terrorist attacks, the Project Manager for the fight against the commune’s radicalization in Molenbeek, Olivier van der Haegen, stated the number of youngsters in the area supporting radicalism is on the rise.

He said fewer individuals are leaving for the Middle East to fight alongside jihadists. However, that does not mean the radicalization of younth, in some cases, will decline.

Very often, these individuals already have criminal backgrounds, whether for drug trafficking, smuggling or other offences, he noted.

According to the Project Manager, terrorist recruiters remain active in Molenbeek, and investigations are ongoing.

Prison wardens, who were questioned as part of the investigation, a few weeks ago, proved to be very skeptical as to the potential to deradicalize a given individual, said van der Haegen.

According to media reports, the Belgian Federal Bureau of Investigation, police forces conducted a campaign of raids in Brussels and Neville, as part of their counter-terrorism investigations. No arrests were made during the raids, but some people were brought to police departments for investigation only; no arms or explosives were found either.

Of note, in mid-February, the Brussels’ investigative judge released 11 people who were arrested by the police from many regions, mainly those resided by a Muslim and Arab-dominated population.