Paris Terrorist Was Radicalized by Bush's Iraq War, Abu Ghraib Torture
By Juan Cole /

Sharif and Said Kouashi, the two brothers for whom the French police are searching, were born in Paris of Algerian parents, Mokhtar et Freiha Méguireche, according to a profile published by Le Monde. Said was born in 1980. Sharif was born in 1982. The brothers were poor and unemployed. Sharif did not finish school. The Kouashi brothers sometimes delivered pizza to make a little money. They were involved in petty crime as teenagers.

Then in early 2003 at the age of 20, Sharif Kouashi and his brother Said started attending the al-Da`wa Mosque in the Stalingrad quarter. They had showed up with long hair, smoking, and lots of bad habits. The mosque gave them a sense of purpose. Sharif told his later lawyer, “Before, I was a delinquent.”

One member of the congregation at the al-Da`wa Mosque was Farid Benyettou. He was only a year older than Sharif, but was learned in Muslim texts, and taught informal classes at his apartment after prayers at the mosque. The boys began spending time with Benyettou. They stopped smoking, stopped getting high. At his apartment, Benyettou took them on the internet, and showed them images from Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. Sharif said, “It was everything I saw on the television, the torture at Abu Ghraib prison, all that, which motivated me.”

Benyettou ran a recruitment ring targeting young French Muslims that sent them to fight US troops in Iraq. They jogged in a park to get in shape and got rudimentary training in how to handle a Kalashnikov semi-automatic. They would tell their families that they were going to study in Syria. And they would spend some time in hard line Salafi schools. But then they would slip across the border into Iraq.

Sharif was about to go to Iraq in 2005, himself, to fight Bush’s troops there (which he saw as aggressive foreign occupiers), but he and a friend were arrested and interrogated by the French police.

In 2008 he and three others were tried as members of the 19th Arondissement Cell, on charges of funneling a dozen young French Muslims into Iraq from 2003 to 2005 (one ended up in Falluja). They typically joined al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, then headed by the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. There had been no al-Qaeda in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, whose secret police issued an APB for Zarqawi in summer, 2002. Bush’s invasion and occupation led to the founding of ‘al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia.’

Sharif Kouashi was sentenced to 3 years but only served about 18 months.

When he got out, Sharif Kouashi became involved around 2010 in a plot to break Ismail Ait Ali Belqasim, a notorious Muslim fundamentalist, out of prison. Belqasim was a member of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, an al-Qaeda affiliate that Usama Bin Laden supported from Sudan, and was responsible for a 1995 bombing of the French Metro (subway).

At some point after 2011, the Kouashi brothers went to Syria to fight the regime of Bashar al-Assad (which the French government also said it wanted to see overthrown). They are said to have returned this summer. Given their past with Zarqawi, they might have been fighting for Daesh (ISIS or ISIL). But since it was kicked out of al-Qaeda, it is also possible that they fought with another group, perhaps Jabhat al-Nusra, the main al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

They also may have had experience in, or contacts in, Yemen. Sharif told someone at the scene of the crime that it was done by ‘al-Qaeda in Yemen.’ That would be al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the most active affiliate in attempting to pull off operations in the West. It was behind the 2009 underwear bombing attempt over Detroit.

Without Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, it is not at all clear that Sharif Kouachi would have gotten involved in fundamentalist vigilanteism. And if he hadn’t, he would not have gone on to be a point man in murdering out the staff of Charlie Hebdo along with two policemen.

Iraq is a major Arab, Muslim country. Its capital, Baghdad, is special to Sunni Muslims because the Abbasid empire built it and ruled from it. Having American troops occupy it for 8 years, humiliate its citizens, shoot people at checkpoints, and torture people in military prisons was a very bad idea. Some people treated that way become touchy, and feel put down, and won’t take slights to their culture and civilization any longer. Maybe the staff at Charlie Hebdo would be alive if George W. Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney hadn’t modeled for the Kouashi brothers how you take what you want and rub out people who get in your way.

4.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 14,208 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 10,440 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
25 Mind-Twisting Optical Illusion Paintings by Rob Gonsalves
Dovas · 7,139 views today · The beautiful and mind-bending illusions in Canadian artist Robert Gonsalves’ paintings have a fun way of twisting your perception and causing you to question what in his...
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change (2015)
11 min · 5,576 views today · Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday; or that chopping...
No Moral Superpower: Arundhati Roy, Edward Snowden, and the Crimes of Empire
Jake Johnson · 5,491 views today · When Arundhati Roy was preparing, in 2014, for a trip to Moscow to meet Edward Snowden, she was troubled by two things. One of them was the fact that the meeting was arranged...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 3,190 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 3,114 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Men Loving Men
Bianca Vivion · 2,681 views today · When my father was seven he and his best friend Phil cut their index fingers open and placed them together to create a “blood pact” that they would always be brothers. To this...
The Empire Vs. The People - Police Attack and Arrest Peaceful Protestors at the Dakota Access Pipeline
6 min · 2,083 views today · On October 22, just before dawn, hundreds of people, including many families, gathered and prepared to march toward the Dakota Access pipeline construction site near Standing...
These Incredible Stories Remind Us of Our Better Selves
36 min · 1,908 views today · #WhoWeAre is a campaign to share the stories of people whose actions show us compassion and to send a message of empathy, hope and optimism. These videos will automatically...
The Burden of the New Story
Adebayo Akomolafe · 1,776 views today · The 'new story' - that longed for milieu when all is right with the world and things are set straight - seems to be taking its sweet time coming. Why?
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,754 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
And After the Election, The Reaction
Ret Marut · 1,504 views today · Could there be any better illustration of the shortcomings of representative democracy than this year’s Presidential campaign? For months upon tiresome months, the whole world...
Writers Tom Hayden and Naomi Klein Talk About Journalism and Activism
27 min · 1,312 views today · Author, Activist and Former California State Senator Tom Hayden talks in depth with the author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein, about the state of the fourth...
'The Climate of Fear Is Unacceptable' - Ken Loach on I, Daniel Blake
6 min · 1,120 views today · Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning film I, Daniel Blake tells the story of a man who is denied disability benefit after a heart attack and who is then subsequently caught in a...
Three Massive Mergers - Millions for One Bank and a Disaster for Food, Water, and Climate
Wenonah Hauter · 810 views today · In addition to advising on all three mega-mergers, Credit Suisse is playing a big role behind the scenes of the Dakota Access pipeline.
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 771 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 633 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Ode to Lesvos
5 min · 483 views today · An inspiring story of a few remarkable heroes on the Island of Lesvos who helped almost half a million refugees in 2015 has been documented in a new short film called Ode to...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 450 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Paris Terrorist Was Radicalized by Bush's Iraq War, Abu Ghraib Torture