LEIDEN, Netherlands (AP) — The father says he did not raise his son as a Muslim — and he regrets his decision now.
Maybe if Reda Nidalha, born and bred in the historic Dutch university city of Leiden, had learned about moderate Islam, it would have been harder for extremists to “brainwash” him and help him travel to Syria, his father says.
Mohamed Nidalha sent his son to Belgium to stay with his uncle after Reda fell in with a bad set of friends in Leiden.
But Reda soon came into online contact with a Belgian in Syria who linked him up with a notorious terror recruiting network, Sharia4Belgium.
The 20-year-old who grew up liking girls and going to discos suddenly changed, thanks to a toxic cocktail of online propaganda and covert contact with extremists in Belgium, one of Europe’s hotspots for Islamic radicals.
“He went to the mosque, grew a beard and went to readings somewhere in a secret place — not in a mosque, but in a house somewhere,” says Nidalha, a 49-year-old immigrant from Morocco who works in a concrete factory. “There, he was brainwashed, and prepared. Inside two months he was made totally crazy.”
Reda is emblematic for hundreds of disaffected Muslim youngsters from the largely secular countries of Belgium and the Netherlands who have turned their backs on their liberal Western societies and been sucked into the sectarian maelstrom of Syria’s brutal civil war…
The stories seem to all sound the same: another article from today is titled: “Legion of foreign fighters battles for Islamic State.”
It notes people from Minneapolis, New Zealand, Canada and the Balkans, estimating the total numbers of all foreign fighters at 16,000 – 17,000.