Belgian Fighters in Syria and Iraq ~ July 2015

A new statistical update on Belgian fighters in Syria and Iraq

The maximum number of Belgians who at one point were active in Syria or Iraq has climbed to 498. This implies that the steady flow from foreign fighters to (mainly) The Islamic State has somewhat slowed down. Since April 2015 that would be an increase of only 14 (known) individuals.

Of these 498 we identified 163 by name and surname. Another 94 individuals are only known by their kunya or nom de guerre. And so, it might be possible that the total number mentioned is slightly overestimated. It is indeed possible that some of the anonymous mentions in the database overlap with known individuals. My count however is a lot higher than the official numbers of the Belgian Government:

  • about 180-190 Belgians in Syria
  • 60 to 70 killed
  • about 120 returned (official update dd July 26 : 118)
  • about 10 travelling towards Syria (where do they get that number I wonder …)
  • about 50 tried to leave but were stopped

Since the first terrorism trial in Belgium early 2015, it has been (partly) proven that Sharia4Belgium at least inspired a lot of young Belgians. And it seems to be so indeed; as 78 of them (17,5%) are to be directly linked to Sharia4Belgium. The first Belgians who left joined a variety of groups, often small and independent groups that, in time affiliated with The Islamic State.

At least 100 of the Belgian fighters are indeed members of The Islamic State, yet the overal count of IS-fighters is most likely higher.

Around nine percent of the Belgians (44 to be precisely) are women. 14 of them have a proven affiliation with Sharia4Belgium. At least 18 of them are affilliated with The Islamic State.

The ages of 165 Belgian fighters varry between 14 and 69; the average age has risen slightly to 25,8.

Origins in Belgium: Of 231 individuals we know where they originated from, as shown in next graph (in alphabetical order):


Group affiliations:

  • 78 individuals can be linked to Sharia4Belgium, the most important group in Belgium contributing to the high number of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq.
  • 4 are linked to Shaykh Bassam al-Ayashi’s former network Centre Islamique Belge
    At least one was a former member of the Groupe Islamique Combattant Marocain (GICM)
  • We know of at least 5 individuals who are fighting in pro-regime ranks
  • At least 100 Belgians are fighters / members of The Islamic State (ISIS). Most remarkably at least 19 of them are/were members of the Lybian branch Katibat al-Battar al-Libi
  • Another 16 (most likely much more) are fighting in the ranks of Jabhat an-Nusra
  • Another 14 are linked to other rebel groups, the majority of them joined Suqur as-Sham
  • Returned: At least 51 individuals have already returned to Belgium, yet this number might be doubled according to official government sources. (mid July 2015: official number is 120
  • Killed:
    At least 61 Belgians have been killed thus far in Syria and Iraq. Most of them in combat, at least three of them conducted a suicide operation
  • A List of Belgians fighters killed in Syria and Iraq (in random order):
    1. Abd ar-Rahman al-Ayashi (aka Abu Hajjar), 38, Idlib, Suqur as-Sham
    2. Abdalgabar Hamdaoui, 34. Jabhat an-Nusra
    3. Abdel Monaïm Lachiri (aka Abu Sara), 33, Aleppo, ISIS
    4. Abu al-Bara’ al-Jaza’iri, Saraqib
    5. Abu Ali al-Baljiki, Idlib
    6. Ahmed Dihaj (aka Abu Atiq), 32, Sharia4Belgium, Jabhat an-Nusra. One of the accused on the Sharia4Belgium trial. Left Belgium in April or May 2013, killed September 2013
    7. Anonymous, Ahmed Stevenberg, Lattakia
    8. Anonymous (Vilvoorde)
    9. Anonymous (Vilvoorde)
    10. Anonymous (Brussels)
    11. Faysal Yamoun (aka Abu Faris al-Maghribi), 30, Antwerp, Sharia4Belgium, Jabhat an-Nusra. Left Belgium on December 7, 2012. Killed February 2014. One of the accused on the Sharia4Belgium trial.
    12. Hamdi Mahmoud Saad, 32, Latakkia
    13. Houssien Elouassaki (aka Abu Fallujah), 22, Vilvoorde, Sharia4Belgium. Killed in Aleppo province September 2013. One of the accused on the Sharia4Belgium trial.
    14. Isma’il Amghroud, 22, Maaseik, killed June 2013
    15. Khalid Bali (aka Abu Hamza), 17, Antwerpen, Deir ez-Zor, Sharia4Belgium, ISIS, killed May 2014.
    16. Mohammed Bali (aka Abu Hudayfa), 24, Antwerp, Sharia4Belgium, ISIS, killed in Hama. One of the accused on the Sharia4Belgium trial.
    17. Noureddine Abouallal (aka Abu Mujahid), 23, Antwerp, Sharia4Belgium, killed in July 2013. One of the accused on the Sharia4Belgium trial.
    18. Raphael Gendron (aka Abdurauf Abu Marwa), 38, Brussels, Suqur as-Sham, Idlib, killed in April 2013
    19. Sean Pidgeon, Left Belgium in November 2012, killed in March 2013.
    20. Tarik Taketloune, Vilvoorde, 19, Sharia4Belgium, brother returned to Belgium and free under conditions, wife still in Syria, killed in May 2013. One of the accused on the Sharia4Belgium trial.
    21. Anonymous, known as Younis Asad Rahman (aka Asad ar-Rahman al-Baljiki), Latakkia, killed in August 2013
    22. Saïd El Morabit (aka Abu Muthanna al-Baljiki), 27, Sharia4Belgium, ISIS, killed in March 2014. One of the accused on the Sharia4Belgium trial.
    23. Abu ‘Umar, ISIS, Brussels
    24. Rustam Gelayev (son of Chechen warlord Ruslan Gelayev), Aleppo, killed in August 2012
    25. Nabil Azahaf (aka Abu Sayyaf), 21, Brussels, Sharia4Belgium, ISIS, killed in May 2014. One of the accused on the Sharia4Belgium trial.
    26. Anonymous, known as Abu Dujana al-Mali, Brussels, ISIS, ar-Raqqa, killed in March 2014
    27. Karim Azzam (aka Abou Azzam), 23, Brussels, killed in April 2014
    28. Anonymous, known as Abu Salma Al-Belgiki, Deir ez-Zor province, killed in August 2013
    29. Anonymous, known as Abu Handalah, killed in Aleppo
    30. Anonymous, killed in clashes with tribal fighters on July 30th 2014 in al-Keshkeyyi, Deir ez-Zor province
    31. Iliass Azaouaj, 23, Brussels, killed by The Islamic State for alledged betrayal. Raqqa, August 2014
    32. Abu Jihad al-Baljiki, further unknown, killed on August 31st in a regime counter-attack defending the Deir ez-Zor military airport.
    33. Abu Mohsen at-Tunisi, further unknown, killed on August 31st in a regime counter-attack defending the Deir ez-Zor military airport.
    34. One of the Bakkouy brothers from Genk. Killed late September 2014.
    35. Abu Yahya al-Beljiki, reported killed on October 15, 2014.
    36. Ilyass Boughalab, killed in March 2014, Shariah4Belgium, ISIS. One of the accused on the Sharia4Belgium trial.
    37. Abū ‘Umar al-Beljīkī, of Saudi origin, killed in Latakia province in the beginning of October 2014, Jabhat an-Nusra
    38. Khalid Hachti Bernan aka Abu Qa’Qa, ISIS memeber from Virton, reported dead in May 2014
    39. Abu Muhammad al-Baljiki, unknown ISIS fighter, killed in Deir ez-Zor mid October 2014
    40. Oufae Sarrar, aka Umm Jarrah, Sharia4Belgium, ISIS, wife of Ilyass Boughalab, killed end 2013. First known Belgian women killed
    41. Abu Sulayman al-Baljiki al-Maghribi, unknown ISIS fighter, killed in Kobanê mid November 2014
    42. Sabri Refla, AKA Abu Turab, 19, Vilvoorde, left on August 12 2013 and killed in December 2013
    43. Yassine El Karouni, AKA Abu Osama, 23, Dutch origin, killed in May 2014
    44. Zakaria El Bouzaidi, Laken (Brussels), friend of Sean Pidegeon, killed in September 2014
    45. Anonymous, AKA Abu Yahya al-Belgiki, killed in October 2014
    46. Anonymous, AKA Abu Adnan al-Belgiki, Algerian origin, originaly affiliated with Jabhat an-Nusra, turned to ISIS late 2013, killed in September 2014
    47. Anonymous, AKA Abu Said al-Belgiki, killed in Dier ez-Zor in December 2014
    48. Soufiane Amghar, AKA Abu Khalid al-Belgiki, one of the killed ISIS members in Verviers on January 15 2015
    49. Kahlid Ben Larbi, AKA Abu Zubayr al-Belgiki, one of the killed ISIS members in Verviers on January 15 2015
    50. Haddad, no more details, from Molenbeek (Brussels), brother of Verviers plot suspect Abdelmounaim Haddad, killed in Syria
    51. Hamza Kharbache, from Molenbeek (Brussels), brother of Younes Kharbache, killed in Aleppo province, February 2014
    52. Younes Kharbache, from Molenbeek (Brussels), brother of Hamza, killed in Damascus province, August 2013
    53. Anonymous, AKA Abu Bakr al-Belgiki (IS), committed a suicide attack in Ramadi, Iraq, March 11, 2015
    54. Mesut Cankarturan, AKA Abu Abdullah al-Belgiki (IS), killed March 25, 2015 in Deir ez-Zor
    55. Anonymous, AKA Abu Taymiyya al-Belgiki (IS)
    56. Anonymous, AKA Abū ‘Abd Allah al-Belgiki (IS), performed a suicide op on the Irāqī-Jordanian border on April 24, 2015
    57. Anonymous, AKA Abu Muslim al-Belgiki (IS), from Antwerpen. Reportedly killed in June 2014.
    58. Anonymous, AKA Abu Waliyya al-Belgiki (IS). Killed in a suicide attack June 22, 2015
    59. Anonymous, Abu Turab al-Belgiki (IS). Reportedly killed in May 2015
    60. Anonymous, Abu Handala al-Belgiki (IS). Reportedly killed in May 2015
    61. Junior Juma, 16. Reportedly killed in late June 2015. See here for details. 

4 comments on “Belgian Fighters in Syria and Iraq ~ July 2015

  1. […] would be the youngest Belgian victim of that war. According to the independent Belgian researcher Pieter Van Ostaeyen, at least 60 Belgian fighters already have died. Prior to Junior, the youngest of them was former […]

  2. […]   هذه ترجمة لدراسة الباحث البلجيكي بيتر فان أوستاين في تحديث جديد لأعداد المقاتلين البلجيكيين في سوريا […]

  3. […]   هذه ترجمة لدراسة الباحث البلجيكي بيتر فان أوستاين في تحديث جديد لداد المقاتلين البلجيكيين في سوريا […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s