Anti-brainwashing expert throws light on 'normal lad' terror suspect

Police react to a suspicious vehicle near La Carillon restaurant following a series of deadly attacks in Paris, November 15, 2015.
Police react to a suspicious vehicle near La Carillon restaurant following a series of deadly attacks in Paris, November 15, 2015. Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

The brother of wanted Paris attacks Salah Abdeslam on Monday told the Belgian TV RTBF channel that he did not know where he was. He added that his sibling was a « normal lad ». Profile of Jihadist and Islamic State organisation recruitment methods.


« As far as my brother is concerned, we don’t know where he is right now, » Mohammed Abdeslam told RTBF in Brussels after he was released by police without charge after two days in detention.

Salah Abdeslam is not only suspected of firing at people with a kalashnikov on Friday night, but also of being the logistics provider of the Paris terror attacks.

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Neither his family nor his employer noticed anything untoward with the 26-year-old former Brussels tram worker who is the subject of an international arrest warrant by French police.

« He was fired because of his repeated absences, » said the Belgian tram company Stib. « We have no information about him » being radicalised at that time. « He was not reported as radicalised, » added Stib.

« Among hundreds of youngsters we monitor, some have never been to a mosque, » said Dounia Bouzar, head of a sectarianism prevention centre. « But some go to Daesh without ever having met a Muslim, » she told to France2 television on Monday night.

His brother Mohammed has also insisted that the alleged radicalisation of his brother did not come to anyone’s attention. Salah seems to be a « normal lad, (…) he has not yet been interviewed by the police. We don’t know what really happened, we don’t know in the present climate if Salah will dare surrender to police ».

« We are an open-minded family, we have never had any trouble with the police, » added Mohammed.

A « normal lad »

Undoubtedly, the Muslim movements which exclude reason from their teachings don’t encourage young people to question their own understanding of religious texts, but drive them into adopting repetitious and mimetic automatisms, to adopt a herd behaviour.

« The Daesh recruitment handbook clearly calls for the targeting youngsters who know nothing about Islam, who are not practising believers, who are socially isolated. (…) It’s Daesh’s objective to manipulate youngsters with no religious knowledge, because they are easier to brainwash, » Bouzar said on France2.

« It’s the beginning of a recruitment process that leads to psychological and emotional isolation, in a bid to escape the real world ». Also, in its final stage, « Daesh proposes a final confrontation with the real world », she added.

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