Gjesteskribent

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Marokkansk politi fikk seg et lite sjokk 6. mars: Mannen de arresterte på en internettcafé hadde forsvunnet for fire år siden og var enten død eller i utlendighet. Men her var plustelig Saad al-Houssaini, kalt «kjemikeren» på grunn av sin utdannelse.

At slike mennesker finnes er skremmende for både stat og samfunn. De er begavede mennesker som tar høyere utdannelse, men som på et eller annet punkt radikaliseres, og ender opp som jihadister. Kunnskapen settes så inn for å ødelegge. Det gjør dem dobbelt farlige. De kjenner utdannelsesystemet, måten å organisere arbeid på, og samfunnets innretning.

Saad al-Houssaini var sønn av en professor. Han var begavet og vant et stipend til universitetet i Valencia.

Houssaini was born in Meknes, a north-central Moroccan city with about 500,000 residents. A professor’s son, he studied chemistry in college and won a Moroccan government scholarship to attend graduate school at the University of Valencia in Spain.

The scholarship, however, paid only a few dollars a month in living expenses. Houssaini was forced to take frequent breaks from his studies and lab work to take odd jobs, said his academic adviser, Francisco F. Perez, a chemistry professor at the university.

«He was a hardworking individual,» Perez said in a phone interview. «He would come for a month, then not show up for 10 days because he was selling carpets and junk at street markets, and when he got enough money to get by, he would come back.»

When Houssaini arrived in Valencia in December 1992, he was not visibly religious and would occasionally join students or faculty for drinks, Perez recalled. The professor said he noticed a few changes toward the end of Houssaini’s time in Spain, however: The student grew a beard and printed out so many religious poems and Koranic verses from a lab computer that he drew a reprimand.

«He was very interested in social justice,» Perez said. «He said his country was governed by tyrants. . . . He never said anything bad about Western countries. Quite the opposite — he envied our political regime here and said he wanted our political regime and democracy to be installed in Morocco.»

Houssaini later told Moroccan police interrogators that he became radicalized in Spain after meeting a Tunisian friend who urged him to support Islamic fighters in Afghanistan. Details of the interrogation were first reported in Le Journal Hebdomadaire, a Moroccan news magazine.

«Our principal subjects of discussion were around the jihad,» he said, according to a transcript of the interrogation. «He made me understand the importance of religion and faith, providing me with religious books and audiotapes of the great sheiks’ speeches.»

Houssaini left Valencia University at the end of 1995. He told his professors that he was going home to Morocco for the holy month of Ramadan but never returned. Colleagues said they were surprised because he was close to finishing his degree. In fact, a few months later, his primary research paper — focusing on the anti-cancer properties of certain chemical compounds — was accepted for publication by the International Journal of Chemical Kinetics.

But Houssaini hadn’t left Valencia. In December 1996, he and two friends were arrested by Spanish police and charged with possessing false travel documents and manuals on how to manufacture explosives. He was released on bail.

A few weeks later, he fled Spain and made his way to Afghanistan.

En middelklassesønn med alle muligheter til en karriere velger å hoppe av og gir seg i kast med å bygge bomber i stedet. Det må kalles en omvendelse. Jihadismen har en tiltrekning på en viss type middelklassesønner med muslimsk bakgrunn. De blir fightere for en hellig sak, med alle midler. Det er likheter med Mohammed Ash, den palestinsk/jordanske nevrologen i Storbritannia som var bare 26 år. Men Ash fortsatte som lege, mens Houssaini hoppet av og «hit the road». Han dro til Afghanistan hvor han ble værende i fire år!

Houssaini remained in Afghanistan for four years. In October 2001, after the U.S. military began its bombing campaign against the Taliban, he escaped the country in a Toyota truck with other Moroccan radicals, driving to Iran, according to his interrogation transcript.

After stops in Damascus, Syria, and Ankara, Turkey, he returned with his family to Casablanca in April 2002. He was questioned by police upon his arrival at the airport, but released without charge.

In addition to his efforts to establish domestic cells of bombers over the next few years, Houssaini gradually turned his attention to Iraq. By October 2006, he and other Moroccan radicals had created «many recruitment networks» to send would-be Moroccan suicide bombers and fighters to combat U.S.-led forces there, police documents allege.

Man kan undres om ikke myndighetene i Iran og Syria med viten og vilje lot jihadistene fra Afghanistan unnslippe. De tenkte vel at de kunne komme til nytte?

Houssaini var hjernen bak det dødligste angrepet i Marokkos historie: bombene i Casablanca i mai 2002 der 45 ble drept. Han måtte gå under jorden. I denne tiden har han lært opp folk i bombekunsten. Et nytt nettverk sto klart til å gjennomføre bombekampanjer da han ble arrestert. To andre Afghanistan-veteraner ble også tatt:

Police have arrested two other key figures in the network who had trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Abdelaziz Benzine, who police believe served as the brains of the network alongside Houssaini, was arrested March 11, hours before the first suicide bombing this spring.

Another collaborator, Abdelaziz Habbouch, was arrested May 28; police suspect him of playing a lead role in the May 2003 Casablanca bombings and helping to recruit fighters for al-Qaeda forces in Iraq.

Mens han var i Afghanistan vr Houssaini med å stifte Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group. Det var den som sto bak bombingen av Madrid 11. mars 2004.

Houssainis gruppe rakk å gjennomførte tre bombeangrep selv om lederen ble tatt. Til å begynne med trodde politiet at det dreide seg om amatører. Ettervert fikk de øynene opp for profesjonaliteten og kontakten til Al Qaida i Pakistan. Akkurat som med angrep i Storbritannia peker sporene tilbake til Al Qaida i Pakistan.

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