Internet jihadist Malika El Aroud dies at 64

Muslim extremist Malika El Aroud (64) has died in Belgium after a prolonged illness, De Standaard reports. El Aroud was considered one of the leaders of al-Qaeda's Belgian cell and was known as one of Europe's most prominent Internet jihadists.

Malika El Aroud, nicknamed 'Mama Jihad' or 'the black widow of jihad', passed away in Belgium on Thursday. Since being stripped of her Belgian citizenship in 2017, she had been living in seclusion with a relative. The New York Times called El Aroud one of the most prominent Internet jihadists in Europe in 2008.

In 2001, El Aroud travelled to Taliban Afghanistan with Abdessatar Dahmane, who later that year carried out a suicide attack on Afghan opposition leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. She returned to Belgium and was tried in 2003 for plotting Massoud's murder. El Aroud was acquitted. "Your ideas are very extreme, but I cannot sentence you for them," said the judge.

El Aroud went on to emigrate to Switzerland with her new husband, the jihadi Moez Garsallaoui. The couple set up a hate website calling for jihad, which led to their conviction for spreading hate propaganda.

The jihadi couple returned to Belgium after their sentence and remained active in al-Qaeda, writes De Standaard. El Aroud's writings calling for holy war earned her considerable prestige in the Muslim extremist milieu as an 'internet jihadist'.

The couple was eventually sentenced to eight years in prison by a Brussels court in 2010 for recruiting Brussels Muslims. She was considered one of the leaders of al-Qaeda's Belgian cell. She served an eight-year sentence, after which Belgium tried unsuccessfully to deport her to Morocco.


Malika El Aroud on trial in Brussels in 2010 © BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels