Jihadists use mass, targeted communication calling for further attacks in Belgium.
Sunday, Daesh recruiters dispatched text messages to young men in
Brussels’ Muslim-dominated district of Molenbeek, calling on them to
"make the right choice" and "fight the westerners."
according to a recent statement from Belgium’s health minister, were
sent from an untraceable prepaid account and followed the distribution
of a Facebook video showing Molenbeek youth celebrating last week’s
terror attacks in Brussels that left at least 35 dead.
The SMS text message, written in French, says: "My brother, why not fight the westerners? Make the right choice in your life."
use of mass, targeted online communication via social networks to
distribute propaganda has heightened tensions in Brussels following the
attacks, and has seen ever more strident calls for crackdowns against
the Muslim community and barring entry for refugees. Officials fear that
in the wake of the tragic attacks, disillusioned Muslim youth who face
increased persecution may respond to Daesh’s call for violent extremism.
people are trying to take our youth by storm," said Jamal Ikazban, a
local Socialist MP. "It is like having a big-time drug dealer outside
the school gates. We feel the same. They have to be taken off the
streets. They are predators and our youths are the victims."
move by jihadists, dispatching call-to-arms text messages during a
police lockdown, could incite tensions in Brussels and potentially
leaves the recipients subject to investigation by Belgian authorities.
leaders are stepping up to try to reduce the risk of radicalization
among Molenbeek’s Muslim youth population and to prevent increased
turbulence from the region’s far-right. One such leader seeking to calm
to turbid waters is Jamal Zaria, an imam at Molenbeek’s Arafat mosque
who is meeting with community parents to come up with strategies to
render terrorist propaganda ineffective.
"Our kids are being
exposed to something like cancer at a metastasic stage," said Zaria, "It
is really spreading very quickly. We have to race against time to
develop an immune system for the children in our community so they
reject the message of Daesh."
Notwithstanding efforts within the
Islamic community to counter terror propaganda and to inoculate the
community’s children against extremism, the polarization between
Belgium’s Muslim and Christian communities has been amplified by new
calls to expel Muslims.
One ultraconservative group will attempt
to hold an “expel the Islamists” demonstration in Molenbeek on Saturday.
The march has been banned due to fears that it will incite violence,
but Belgian nationalists have successfully defied previous march