For Kenneth Van Oost

Date: Thu 12 Dec 2002 - 18:31:49 GMT

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    Abu Jahjah is the verbally fluent and charming president and founder of the Arab European League (AEL), a two- year old extremist organization growing rapidly in Belgium, which is now planning to plant itself in The Netherlands as well.

    Jahjah led an outburst of violence in the Flemish port city of Antwerp a fortnight ago.

    After a Moroccan school teacher was killed by a Flemish man (who turned out to have serious psychological problems), Moroccan youths wrecked cars, looted shops, and clashed with police for three days. Jahjah was arrested under pressure from the Belgian prime minister, released a few days later, and prohibited from participating in public demonstrations for the next three months.

    Abu Jahjah (31) was born in Lebanon, where he joined Hezbullah when he was 17 (link in Dutch). He ended up in Belgium in 1992. Allegedly, he claimed to be an Hezbullah apostate who had to fear for his life. In 1995, Belgium wanted to throw him out of the country, so he quickly arranged a marriage with a gullible Belgian woman. The bogus marriage lasted just long enough to win him Belgian citizenship.

    The Arab European League is characterized by its antisemitism, violence, and street tactics. One of the more notorious activities of the AEL is sending surveillance teams, clad in black uniform, onto the streets of Antwerp to
    "monitor" the police, who are accused of discriminating against Muslims. The Belgian prime minister, in turn, has accused the AEL of aiming to create "police-free zones", where criminal activity can then take place unchecked.

    The political views of Abu Jahjah sound familiar:

    "We are against the war, against all American wars...We are opposed to the war of Bush and Sharon. We are opposed to the sanctions [against Iraq] and the inspections. This is not the last time we will be on the streets. If war breaks out, we will demonstrate everywhere in the world: in Brussels, Paris, and Baghdad. We have to arm ourselves to continue our struggle. We need to arm all those who want to resist the United States. Because everywhere in the world there is one fight: against the United States. Today and in the future. We support the resistance in Palestine and in Iraq. We support everyone who battles today against zionism and imperialism." (my translation)

    It is not known who funds the AEL, but as they don't accept subsidy from the Belgian government, there is speculation that they are financed by foreign governments (Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia?). Rumor has it the AEL was set up by the World Muslim League, which is sponsored by Saudi Arabia. Some parents of rioting kids claimed their sons were persuaded to join the riots in return for mobile phones and other hand-outs. The AEL is also behind the recent attempt to indict Ariel Sharon in Belgium for human rights abuses. They confirmed they received foreign financial support to pay for the lawsuit. After being released from police custody, Jahjah declared victory, promising that he would run for the Belgian parliament in June and threatening to sue the prime minister for libel.

    The latest development is AEL's plan to set up shop in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is attractive for radical Muslims, in part because of its generous schooling system. It's easy to start your own school, and all primary schools, including religious ones, are subsidized by the state. The 32- year old M'Hamed Zaghboubi, "an unemployed migrant", , announced yesterday (link in Dutch) in the Dutch evening paper NRC Handelsblad that the Dutch franchise of the AEL will be formally founded in February. To show what Europe is dealing with, I have translated parts of the interview:

    Even though a majority is doing well, the crime among Moroccan youths is very high, isn't it?
    "You think that's strange? Since the eighties kids have been trained to take over their fathers' jobs in the factories. The Dutch education system has failed. It differentiates between Dutch and foreign students.... Foreigners are treated like Untermenschen (Hitler's term for the Jews, ed.)"

    So the fault doesn't lie with the immigrants? The guilt for the problems that foreign kids cause lies with Dutch society. Absolutely. That's why we have to increase self-awareness amongst Moroccan kids. It would be good if there is an AEL in every city."
    [...] You want to start surveilling the Dutch police by Moroccan youths, just like the AEL in Belgium. Don't you think that's radical and provocative? What would be wrong with that! It's absolutely my right as a citizen to monitor the police and report any incidents to the proper authorities.

    Is the Dutch police just as racist as the one in Antwerp? Yes, but more subtle and smart than their Belgian colleagues [...]

    Why would Moroccan kids, who are mostly Berber, be attracted by an Arab league? Islam binds us all, all young people from North-Africa.

    In a recent interview on Dutch TV, Abu Jahjah said: "It would be fantastic if empty planes would be flown into the White House."

    Let me leave you with this note. The Dutch parliament convened recently to discuss the possibility of banning the AEL. It turns out the law doesn't allow for this possibility. Besides, the minister of Justice didn't feel there was any need to ban AEL. Welcome to 21st century Europe.

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