by Guy Van Vlierden
“Two years ago I published an article in ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’, the largest daily newspaper in Belgium, based upon an e-mail conversation with the Tunisian born Moez Garsallaoui. He is married to the well known Belgian-Moroccan ‘passionaria of internet jihad’ Malika El-Aroud, and he left Brussels in 2007 to join the Taliban in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Because my article only was published in Dutch, and Garsallaoui apparently grew in importance since then, I thought it could be useful for a broader audience to learn what he told.
It was in the summer of 2009 I managed to get in touch with Garsallaoui through the French speaking internet forum ‘Ansar Al-Haqq’. It took a few months and several messages back and forth via two different e-mail addresses – one bearing his own name, the other pretending to be that of a spokesman, calling himself ‘Seif Allah Ibn Haritha’ – to obtain a full interview. Before that, Garsallaoui already wrote me that he had also Dutch speaking people around him – quite interesting for me, but he didn’t want to give more details – and that he had not met his Belgian-Moroccan comrade Hicham Bouhali Zriouil, a former taxi driver from Brussels who also went fighting with the Taliban, for more than a year and a half. “But according to my information he is well”, I was told at that point. He also sent me a picture – “an old one”, he wrote – of himself in combat. Later, he put that same picture on his profile at ‘Ansar Al-Haqq’. Garsallaoui’s final response in Arabic was signed: “The servant of the Jihad and the Mujahideen, Al-Kayrawani Moezeddine”. What follows is a rough translation to English of my questions and his answers – as litterally as possible.
Is it true that you are living in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan?
Currently I am staying in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. I can’t give the exact location for security reasons. Inside Pakistan, in the rugged mountain regions, the Pashtun tribes are all on the side of the Jihad in Afghanistan. And support for the Jihad does not only come from them, but also from other regions of Pakistan, India and Uzbekistan, and many countries in Asia. Even the Chinese muslims are fighting the forces of NATO in that area.
Can you describe what you are doing there?
I left my home and family for the sake of Jihad for God. What I’m currently doing in Afghanistan, is fighting the forces of NATO alongside my brothers, the taliban. We offer them the help they demand us, and together with them we organize offensive operations against the centers of the US armed forces, their allies, and the collaborationist Afghan army. Previously, the military operations more or less ceased during winter. But now, with the grace of God, thanks to the growing popular support for the Jihad, the military activity of the taliban has become much easier in the towns and villages. So nowadays we are very busy in this time of year too.
Is it correct that you have already killed American soldiers and you’re proud of that?
As I have said, I left my home just for the sake of Jihad, and that means killing the enemy. During the execution of military operations it is logical to kill and injure your enemies, just as there are brothers who have already become martyrs. This is confirmed by what the high and mighty God says in His book: “God hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs is the garden. They fight in His cause, and slay and are slain.”
The killing of American soldiers, or others who have come to the countries of Islam to colonize, is not a moral crime for which we are ashamed. On the contrary, by killing them we come closer to God and that makes us proud. The companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are our models. I praise God because thanks to Him I hit almost every shot. Very often we got the message that some of them were slain or wounded. This made or fighters and the majority of the population happy.
What do you think about the arrest of your like-mindeds in Belgium and other European countries, included your wife Malika El-Aroud?
The arrest of a number of Muslims in Europe – some of which I previously knew, and others not – is not an amazing act from the European countries. They are afraid. The reason is that they are partners of America in it’s crimes against Muslims. But what me struck in these arrests is the degree to which they were accompanied by lies and forgery. In Belgium, for example, some security officers said that there were preparations for a suicide operation. Some of them talked about the possibility that European leaders were targeted on the day their summit began. I think that is an exaggeration and a deliberate inflation of the facts by the known intelligence services. The aim is to scare the public in order to mobilize support for the continuation of the organized killing of our sons and brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Many people from Europe and other places come to this territory. Some are staying and are steadfast in the struggle and endure the harsh conditions. Others cannot and return to whence they came. I myself was not aware that the brothers had returned to Europe and I do not know why they did. But I am sure that their arrest was accompanied by a campaign of lies and fabrications that implied me too. CNN was the forerunner in spreading these lies. The station claims that I was involved in a terrorist plot that aimed in 2006 to blow up seven aircraft in the air. That’s just laughable.
The arrest of my wife is one of the great crimes of the Belgian government. Especially because my wife has nothing to do with this case, except that she is my wife. I’ve never allowed her to participate in actions that could endanger her. It is true that she is a courageous woman who likes to read and write and spread her opinion, but that is her legal right since you claim it is the right of every citizen in your country. Why then these false allegations?
The Belgian Government had enough of the opinions that my wife wrote down in her book and spreaded over the Internet. It could not prosecute her for her opinions and her ideas, nor change the laws that protect freedom of expression. For that would be in contradiction with the principles on which the state is based. It found nothing else than to invent things and false accusations. I challenge them to show a valid proof that my wife is guilty of any terrorist act, as they claim. She is currently a full year in prison. That is very long and a great injustice. Every extra day that she in imprisoned, I feel more humiliated. This is not only my feeling, but what countless people feel. My wife is my queen. Every day, no every hour that she spends in prison, I find nothing that can replace her, how expensive it might be or how valuable it might be for the people.
Do you have feelings of hate and revenge towards the Belgian people, and do you support violent actions on Belgian soil?
As I have said, my feeling is one of injustice. Those who are unjustly treated, need to free themselves from the injustice in order to return to their natural state. I urge no action against the Belgians. Here in Afghanistan we are under the direct guidance of a Taliban commander, and it is only with his consent we may fight somebody or reconcile us with someone, because he is responsible for this. But the Belgian involvement in provocative acts against Muslims can lead to reactions. Just as the presence of the NATO headquarters on Belgian territory is considered sufficient reason by some to consider an attack.
Therefore it would be better that Belgium and the western countries in general make an end to the unjust treatment of Muslims on their soil, and that they forbid to provoke Islam, the shrines and prophets of the Muslims. Therefore it would also be better that they take the intiative to stop their unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, so that they will get full security and do not have to fear actions on their territories.
Is your participation in Jihad not a proof that European authorities are right in their assertion that you and your wife used your internet forums to recruit young European muslims to fight?
My participation in Jihad is not a crime and should not be considered as such. Since the beginning of history it is a legitimate right in human morality. And in our religion it is even a duty. If we do not comply to this, we are regarded as guilty and disobedient. The actions related to this, such as calling and encouraging people to fulfill this duty, are not bad things we have to hide of fear to carry them out.
About the Internet sites, I managed two sites. A site in Arabic that was closed several times by the Swiss authorities and another site in French that I closed myself a few months ago. Both sites were visited by people with Jihadi ideas. We exchanged news and intelligence about the subject. In Switzerland, me and my wife were tried because of these two sites. I would like to point out that it was me who runned the websites and had direct responsibility for it. My wife only posted her opinions like other users did. She was not aware of my preparations to go to Afghanistan, nor other details on this topic. She only knew a few days in advance that I would leave to Turkey. Hence it is madness to connect my wife with recruitment operations or organizing the fight. Her arrest and conviction for acts she did not commit and had no complicity in, is a serious offense.
Would you like to return some day to Belgium or another European country, or do you prefer to stay were you are?
I lived in Switzerland, but I do not want to return to that country, nor elsewhere in Europe. I hope I will never be forced to do that.
Do you have a message for the people in Belgium and Europe, whether they are muslim or not?
We always hope that other nations – including Belgium – will study Islam and convert. It is always our duty to remind them to that. But if it would be too difficult for some to convert to Islam, we say to them: stop harming Muslims and stop with treating them unfair. And do not help the ones who inflict unjustice. Because injustice is bringing the downfall of he who commits it. For example, within a few days there will be a meeting in Brussels, where European countries will decide to send thousands of soldiers to Afghanistan to cover the shortage of NATO troops here. The European people should counter this and express a strong opposition to this if they are really peaceful. Even if the peoples of Europe do not care about the safety of the oppressed people, then they should at least spare the blood and souls of their own sons. Because when they come to us, they can only expect to manslaughter. Increasing the number of troops of the alliance will give us a greater chance of taking a greater number of them.
My advice to Muslims in Belgium and other countries would be to leave. I remind them that we are in a state of war with them. Because they sent their soldiers to kill our brothers and sisters here. I also remind them that the Mujahidin do not carry any responsibility for what may happen to them in those countries.
Guy Van Vlierden is a journalist for the Belgian newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’