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Muriel Degauque vokste opp i en den rolige belgiske byen Charleroi. Hun var datter av en legesekretær, og etter skolegang arbeidet hun i et bakeri. Hun ble gift med en algerier, konverterte og ble stadig mer religiøs.

9. november 2005 eksploderte en selvmordsbombe prematurt i Bagadad. Hensikten var å sprenge en amerikansk kolonne i lufta. Belgierne fikk sjokk da de fikk høre at det var Degauque fra Charleroi. Hun ble 38 år. Hun var nå gift med mann nummer to, en marokkaner.

Seks menn ble mandag stilt for en belgisk domstol, anklaget for å ha vervet rekrutter til jihad i Irak. Degauque var en av dem.

The six, most of them Belgians of North African descent, face charges including membership in a terror group, forgery and fencing of stolen goods. All deny the charges.

Prosecutors allege the network was responsible for sending, among others, 38-year-old Belgian Muriel Degauque to Iraq for the attack on Nov. 9, 2005. She died when her explosives went off prematurely.

Police were investigating the group at the time of the attack, and suspected they had set up a network that took people to Iraq to fight.

Police said Bilal Soughir, 33, was the main suspect for keeping the lines open with terrorists in Iraq, and the only one behind bars when the trial opened.

He did not attend the court session because he refused to don concealment equipment including a balaclava and dark goggles.

«He cannot even wear them for a short time. He feels like choking and faints,» said his lawyer Fernande Motte.

Another defense lawyer, Christophe Marchand, asked whether people who went to fight in Iraq were even considered terrorists under Belgian law.

«It is fundamental because Belgian law says that if they are fighters, they cannot fall under the anti-terror legislation,» he said.

The procedural issue is expected to be settled by Thursday, officials said.

Degauque, the daughter of a hospital secretary, grew up on a quiet street in a town outside the city of Charleroi before becoming a baker’s assistant. She became heavily involved in Islam after marrying an Algerian. Belgian prosecutors say Degauque carried out the attack near an American military patrol in Iraq after entering the country from Syria a month earlier.

Authorities say Degauque had been a member of a terror group that embraced al-Qaida’s ideology.

The group included her second husband, a Belgian of Moroccan origin who entered Iraq with Degauque and was killed in murky circumstances while allegedly trying to set up a separate suicide bombing.

Authorities said the Belgian network had been planning to send more volunteers to Iraq for attacks.

ap