Four Shariah4Belgium members wanted by Belgian police
On the specific request of FAST (Fugitive & Asset Search Team) the Belgian Federal Police, on December 30, 2015, published a wanted notice for four former Shariah4Belgium-members. All four men were convicted in February 2015 on the Shariah4Belgium-trial that stirred Belgium for months. All four of them were tried in absentia, it is indeed pointed out that the four men were at the time of the trial somewhere in Syria. It is rather remarkable that the Belgian authorities publish a wanted notice for these men 10 months after the trial. Another remarkable point is that apart from them being former Shariah4Belgium-members, two of them are fighting in the ranks of The Islamic State and the two others, as far as known, joined Jabhat an-Nusra. We will discuss in detail below what is known of the four suspects.
Azeddine Kbir Bounekoub
Azeddine Kbir Bounekoub aka Abu Abdullah (born July 17 1992) was an active member of Shariah4Belgium in Antwerp. He was one of the first Belgians to leave for Syria. He joined the ranks of Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen in the Aleppo province, led by the al-Absi brothers. Houssien Elouassaki was at that time emir of the Muhajirin brigade of the movement. When Abu Athir al-Absi joined ISIS early 2013 Elouassaki joined Jabhat an-Nusra. Azeddine however left for ar-Raqqa and joined ISIS. In the wanted notice issued by the police however it is wrongly stated that he joined Jabhat an-Nusra. In February 2014 Bounekoub wrote an explicit message of support for The Islamic State: “Oh mujahedien van ISIS wees standvastig en heb geduld. De overwinning is nabij”. (Oh Mujahidin of ISIS stand firm and have patience. Victory is near). Earlier he published a message on Facebook praising the Jewish Museum attack in Brussels: “Moge Allah meer jongeren laten opstaan die een voorbeeld nemen aan degene die de aanslag heeft gepleegd in het Joods Museum. Het martelaarschap kan je niet alleen vinden in Syrië, maar ook in België. Wees een doorn in het oog van die vijanden van de islam” (May Allah make more youngsters step forward who follow the eample of the one who attacked the Jewish Museum. Martyrdom is not only to be found in Syria but also in Belgium. Be like a thorn in the eye of the enemies of Islam.) He was sentenced on February 11, 2015 to 15 years imprisonment.
Saïd M’Nari aka Abu Mohammed (born March 13, 1978) was one of the leading figures in Sharia4hBelgium in the city of Antwerp. After Fouad Belkacem, the group’s leader was arrested he coordinated Sharia4hBelgium until the movement disbanded itself early October 2012. He left Belgium in March or April 2013 in the company of Ahmed Dihaj and left behind his wife and children. On his arrival in Syria he joined the ranks of Jabhat an-Nusra in Aleppo province. His current whereabouts are unknown. He was sentenced in absentia to 12 years imprisonment. Said was first sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment and a fine of €30.000 on the first Shariah4belgium trial. His lawyer went for higher appeal and eventually Said M’Nari was sentenced to 12 years in the second Shariah4Belgium trial.
Soufiane Mezroui aka Abu Basir (born July 27, 1992) was another active member of Shariah4Belgium in Antwerp. Left Belgium on August 22 or 23, 2012 in the company of Brahim Bali, Yasmina Zamrouni, Azdine Tahiri and Ahmed Daoudi. At first joined the ranks of Majlis Shura al-Mujahidin in Aleppo province, followed Elouassaki and joined Jabhat an-Nusra. Since November 21, 2015 he is actively tracked down by the Guardia Civil, the Spanish national police. His current location however is unknown. He was sentenced in absentia to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of €15.000.
Probably the best known of the four men, Hicham Chaib aka Abu Hanifa (born October 24, 1981) was one of Shariah4Belgium’s leading members and former bodyguard of Fouad Belkacem. He left on March 19, 2013 in the company of Adel Mezroui, brother of Soufiane. At first he also joined Majlis Shura al-Mujahidin and followed Abu Athir al-Absi to ar-Raqqa. It is reported that he currently holds the position of leading al-Hisba, the Islamic State’s religious police in ar-Raqqa. He was featured in numerous video publications of The Islamic State. He lives in The Islamic State (Syria) with his wife Kaoutar Bioui, aka Umm Hanifa. He was sentenced in absentia to 15 years imprisonment.
Some concluding remarks:
First of all it is safe to state that the Shariah4Belgium-members listed are well known by Belgian authorities and were wanted even long before this new public wanted notice. The notice was most likely republished as new cases are coming up, the four mentioned will be, amongst others, put under trial of new accusations.
The second thing is the fact Belgian Federal Police and Security and Intelligence Forces obviously lost track of those guys long ago, referring to some of them as being members of their former group and in the case of Kbir Bounekoub even linking him to the wrong group.