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Brussels called 'safe haven' for extremists as youth in area continue to radicalize

Sinclair Broadcast Group - A woman describes the radicalization of her son.jpg

In the war on terror, much of the focus has been on Paris, but Brussels has recently been labeled by some as a haven for jihadists where youth are radicalizing at an alarming rate.

Sinclair senior political reporter Scott Thuman reported from Molenbeek, the district in Brussels where several of the Paris attackers lived. While critics say it's a big part of the problem, others believe it may be where the solution is found.

Soldiers in the city streets of Brussels try to calm Christmas shoppers and deter any would-be attackers, but just across the canal: a section with a Jihadi history that some consider more worrisome. That's because young men with ties to Molenbeek are connected to the Paris attacks, the Madrid train bombings, Jewish museum shootings and more.

"We were not prepared for the global world and all the consequences of the globalization and meaning also that some terrorists may enter Belgium we were not prepared for that," said Johan Leman, President of 'Foyer' Integration Centre.

Leman runs a community youth center. He's seen how quickly Molenbeek teens can become radicalized and for years, sounded the alarm.

Thuman: Do you think that they've been ignored, those warnings?

Leman: Of course, this has become very clearI think our approach of the phenomenon is too bureaucratic."

So Sinclair talked with politicians, like Molenbeek's deputy mayor, Ahmed el Khannouss. He's Moroccon, like much of the population in the area. In fact, of 100 thousand people there are 110 nationalities, and unemployment is 50% among young men.


"It can happen to anyone, if the person is in a fragile psychological , socio-economic condition they can absorb the sectarian discourse and play the game of the murderers," said Khannouss.

It happened to Geraldine Henneghien.

She said her son went from what she called a normal boyhood, to the battlefields of Syria where he was killed.

"I'm very angry, I'm very angry... because I informed them, and I said please help me to stop my son."

Per capita, more Belgian teens have let to join ISIS than from anywhere in Europe.

Many want to know if there will be any real efforts to fix the problem, or if their concerns will simply be forgotten until the next attack.


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