Yet another convert to Islam somehow gets the idea that jihad involves waging war against unbelievers. Nary a mosque nor an Islamic school anywhere in the West has any program designed to stop converts to Islam from getting this idea, despite their claim to reject this understanding of Islam and jihad.
The video clip posted on the YouTube account of Belgian teenager Brian De Mulder was brief, but the threat to one of Belgium’s biggest tourist attractions was chilling and clear.
Over the black-and-white flag of one of Syria’s Islamist rebel groups, a voice chants: “Bombs are falling. Atomium, I hear a bang. Body parts are everywhere.”
Mr De Mulder, 19, is one of hundreds of Europeans currently in Syria and believed to be fighting alongside the rebel groups trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
While it is not clear if he himself posted the threat against the Atomium, a huge monument of stainless steel spheres built for the 1958 World Fair, the video reflects the worst fears of law-enforcement agencies and governments across Europe.
Since Syria splintered into civil war in 2011, European Muslims — including up to 300 Britons — with motives ranging from idealism to more radical ideologies have been travelling there in increasing numbers. Now, dozens are returning home, and the fear is that they are no longer impressionable youngsters, but battle-hardened extremists.
A clip from the YouTube video A clip from the YouTube video “By the time they have returned,” says Rob Wainwright, director of the EU-wide policing body Europol, “their extremist views might have been more entrenched and there is clearly a potential danger to society in terms of how they might manifest their views in direct action.”
The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation last month estimated 1,900 Western Europeans are fighting in the Syrian conflict, more than triple the 600 there last year.
Many are joining the extreme Islamist rebel groups including the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qa”ida affiliate blacklisted by the UN security council, according to The International Centre for Counter Terrorism (ICCT), a think-tank based in The Hague.
The Dutch government was so concerned that these men and women could become radicalised and use their combat experience in attacks back home that they raised their terrorism threat level. France’s Minister of Interior, Manuel Valls, has called the phenomenon “a ticking time bomb”.
Memo to the Dutch government: they’re already “radicalized,” or they wouldn’t be waging jihad in Syria.