It's no longer possible to rely 100% on ads to keep our organization going. If you believe in why Films For Action exists, we hope you'll become a supporter on Patreon. A monthly donation of $1, $3, $5 or more per month will really help!
Paris Terrorist Was Radicalized by Bush's Iraq War, Abu Ghraib Torture
By Juan Cole / juancole.com
Jan 9, 2015

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 ·
2
Featured Films
The Staging Post: Courageous People Never Give Up! (2017)
61 min The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia 'stopped the boats' and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started the school which inspired a refugee education revolution. A real-life...
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective (2015)
92 min Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our...
Within Reach (2013)
87 min Within Reach explores one couple's pedal-powered search for a place to call home. Mandy and Ryan gave up their jobs, cars, and traditional houses to 'bike-pack' 6500 miles around the USA seeking sustainable community. Rather than looking in a traditional neighborhood, they...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th century when it forced Native American children into government boarding schools. Today, volunteers...
Fall and Winter (2013)
102 min This stunning film takes you on a hypnotic journey, reaching to the past to understand the origins of the catastrophic environmental transitions we now face. Over two years, director Matt Anderson traveled 16,000 miles to document firsthand our modern industrial world and the...
The Economics of Happiness (2011)
65 min Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment. There...
Trending Today


Love Films For Action? Become a Patron!

Our Patreon campaign is now live! We hope you'll be among the first to support this new direction for Films For Action. The goal is to go 100% ad-free by next year and become 100% member supported. A monthly pledge of just $1 -5 per month x a few thousand awesome people will ensure we can continue our work and grow our impact across the world. Click here to join.

Join us on Facebook
Paris Terrorist Was Radicalized by Bush's Iraq War, Abu Ghraib Torture