Under the banner of multiculturalism, European countries have supported Muslims through immigration provisions, allowances for Islamic law and special advocacy for mosques and schools.
In the U.K., there are entire regions dominated by Muslims that have been labeled no-go zones.
The Gatestone Institute reported there are some 650,000 Muslims in Belgium and 925,000 in the Netherlands, about 6 percent of each nation’s population. According to the report, only France’s Muslim percentage is larger, at 7 percent.
But multiculturalism has worn thin in several nations. Officials have curbed some outreach efforts and clamped down on homegrown jihad, concluding now that the country is harmed when major segments of the populations don’t assimilate.
In Belgium, for example, prosecutors in the Antwerp criminal court have asked that accused terrorist ringleader Fouad Belkacem be sentenced to 15 years in prison for allegedly recruiting at least 30 Belgian Muslims to fight with ISIS in Syria.
Belkacem, also known as Abu Imran, is the reported leader of Shariah4Belgium. Forty-two other men are also standing trial with him.
WND’s efforts to contact Belkacem’s lawyers for comment have not been successful.
Antwerp-based terrorism analyst and Arab linguist Pieter Van Ostaeyen says Belkacem is an influential cleric.
“Belkacem seems to have been an inspiration for a quite large group of people, indeed. Several men and women also converted to Islam because of his preaching. Mind, though, that he was already imprisoned before ISIS came into existence,” Van Ostaeyen said.
Partners in spreading Shariah
United West president and intelligence analyst Tom Trento points out Belkacem has worked with British Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary to promote Islam in Europe.
Choudary, who praised the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attack and the 2005 attack on London, wants Islamic law, or Shariah, to be implemented throughout the U.K.
In an interview, Choudary acknowledged he knows Belkacem but doubted the Belgian recruited fighters for ISIS, because he’s been in jail since February.
“It’s very strange to me that Belgium is putting on this trial at all. They’ve charged 43 people but only about eight or nine of them are actually in court,” Choudary said. “It seems to be a very politically motivated trial designed to tarnish the reputation of these Muslims.”
Choudary dismissed the fear that ISIS fighters will return home to Belgium and other European countries.
“Once they go to Syria, it’s really unlikely that any of them will return. Some have already become martyrs dying on the battlefield. However, many of them are having their passports revoked and are essentially left without a country to return to,” Choudary said.
He claimed it’s “fantasy” to think such fighters would come from the U.S. then return.
But there are already reports of ISIS fighters returning home to Europe and to the U.S., said Clare Lopez, vice president for research and analysis at the U. S. Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C.
“Some intelligence community officials have expressed concern that ISIS could have a presence in the United States. We know that any number of jihadis, perhaps more than a 100 from the United States and thousands from Europe, have gone off the fight in jihad in Syria and Iraq,” Lopez said. “We know that some of them have returned.”
Authorities estimate 300 Belgians have traveled to the Middle East to fight with ISIS. Muslims from other European countries have also joined ISIS. A recent BBC News report said there are as many as 3,000 Europeans fighting with ISIS in Syria or Iraq.
Van Ostaeyen said there is general concern of rising violent jihadist activity in Europe after the June attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels by a French Muslim.
Israel-based intelligence analyst Adina Kutnicki said the concern over ISIS is well founded. However, Kutnicki told WND in an interview that the jihadists’ point of origin should not be the focus.
“Firstly, whether they are recruited in Belgium, or any other Western nation, is not the issue. The fact that Islamic jihad has come full circle – spreading its wings from the Mideast, back into Europe, only to re-enter the Mideast – is in order to fulfill the main mandate. That’s the reestablishment of the caliphate,” Kutnicki said.
Former Air Force counter-intelligence officer and terrorism analyst Dave Gaubatz said any effort to downplay the ISIS threat to the U.S. is seriously misguided.
“ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups, motivated by their Islamic ideology, are the world’s most dangerous threat. ISIS has money, followers, a military and a strategy for world conquest,” Gaubatz said.
Lopez emphasized ISIS fighters returning to Europe and the U.S. have two distinct advantages.
“Not only are these the most devout and practicing of all Muslims, but when they return from those battlefields they now have hardened battle skills that they learned and trained in over there. Further, they possess passports from European countries from which they may or may not need a visa to enter the U.S.,” Lopez said.
The ISIS motivation
Gaubatz said ISIS and like-minded groups are driven by one ingredient – hatred for Christians and Jews.
“Islamic-based organizations, terrorist groups and their supporters hate the Jews, Israel and Americans. When we hear them say they want to wipe out Israel, they’re serious. The U.S. has to take their threats seriously,” Gaubatz said.
Kutnicki agreed that ISIS and other jihadist groups are targeting the U.S.
“The U.S. is in grave danger because the Brotherhood Mafia (Muslim Brotherhood) is embedded in all of the relevant power centers. This goal of domination is why there are jihadi cells preparing for battle in multiple training camps. Jamaat Al-Fuqra is in the forefront on the Sunni side, and Hezbollah camps on the Shia,” Kutnicki said.
Gaubatz believes an attack on the U.S. is coming, and it may be a crushing blow.
“America will soon be attacked by ISIS, and the attacks will be through a series of simultaneous attacks across the U.S. The terrorists know we don’t have the leadership to defend against such attacks,” he said.
He said taking the ISIS threat seriously means considering what a Shariah-based government would be like.
“Look at Saudi Arabia or spend a few weeks under the Taliban. Or, spend some time with ISIS. Neither Muslims nor non-Muslims have any rights under Shariah law. You and your children’s lives can be taken away with almost no proof that you violated Shariah,” Gaubatz said.
Gaubatz believes it’s essential that the U.S. preserve its relationship with Israel.
“If Israel falls, America will fall. The Israelis are America’s only true friends in the Middle East and elsewhere, and the people have to ensure our leaders never forget this fact,” Gaubatz said.