Thursday, November 26, 2015


'I look back and it's like a black hole': Teen girl on how she was radicalised

Maysa: 'I now see I knew nothing about them, really. Just their first names. But I didn't question it'  (Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Maysa was like any other teenager. She loved to dance and sing and smoked cigarettes – before she was radicalised.

A year ago, her life changed dramatically when she started wearing a jilbab, a loose gown and headscarf worn by some devout Muslim women.

Speaking to the Guardian, Maysa, not her real name, explains the story of how she became radicalised and said: 'I look back and it is like a black hole'.

Maysa, from Brussels, initially decided to adopt the jilbab to 'hide some weight I'd put on' but the moment she posted a selfie, she was contacted by another teenage girl, who offered to go shopping with her.

She was then introduced to another group of young women, with a similar background to hers, and increasingly started hanging out with them a lot more.

But rather than talk about make-up and nails, their discussions centred around Islam and the failures of many so-called Muslims. They also started discussing Isis and how 'good' life was in the 'caliphate'.

She said: 'They told me how there was no crime and no discrimination in the Islamic State.

'They spoke about relations between men and women, and said that I would find a good husband, even if I would be one of several of his wives.

'They spoke about fighting the unbelievers and the heretics, but never mentioned any violence or executions or anything like that.'
Maysa was given a new mobile phone with a pre-paid sim card within weeks and was told to keep it a secret. This is how the group would secretly meet.

She said: 'I now see I knew nothing about them, really. Just their first names. But I didn't question it.'

French authorities have declared dead the alleged mastermind of the 13 November deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, adding that he was possibly involved in four other attacks foiled by police this year. His body was found 'riddled with impacts,' following an assault that featured 5,000 bullets fired by police and at least one explosion set off by a suicide bomber. It was not clear if Abaaoud had also blown himself up. 

Earlier this month, 26-year-old Hasna Aït Boulahcen was killed when police raided an apartment in the suburbs of Paris five days after the tragic terror attacks in the capital.

Friends described her as an unstable woman who used to smoke, drink alcohol and partied before swapping that lifestyle for strict Islamic clothing.

The Islamist militancy problem in Belgium is a very serious one, particularly after it was revealed that several of the bombers and gunman who attacked Paris had grown up in Brussels.

The country is said to have one of the highest number of people travelling to Syria per capita anywhere in Europe with up to 500 Belgians having made the trip, of which 50 were women.

Bachir M'Rabet, an educator working with young people in the Molenbeek neighbourhood of Brussels, where many of the Paris attackers grew up, told the Guardian: 'The families simply don't see it coming.'

'Many are actually happy that their kids have calmed down and stopped drinking or getting into trouble.'

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