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Bassam Ayachi, an old jihadist living in Belgium, was arrested in France

His name is Bassam Ayachi. The French counter-terrorist services arrested him in Paris last Tuesday and charged him with terrorist crimes. He is now in detention pending trial.

At age 72, Bassam Ayachi is considered to have been the inspiration for several generations of jihadists. Originally from Syria, he became a naturalized French citizen in the early 1970s, living in Aix-en-Provence. He was even featured in a French documentary in the 1980s as being a model of Muslim integration. In 1992 he moved to Belgium, where he founded the Belgian Islamic Center in Molenbeek. He spread radical Islam, and as a result, many young people he taught went on to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2013, Ayachi himself left Belgium in order to join the war in Syria.

His name has been cited in some forty terrorism cases in Belgium, but he has never been charged with any crimes there. His son was sentenced by default in Brussels for recruiting for jihad.

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