Khalid Bouloudo is considered “one of the most renowned Jihadists from Belgium.”
Rabat – A Belgian-Moroccan terrorist convict has been arrested in Belgium under allegations that he is a kingpin in a kidnapping case carried out in late April.
Khalid Bouloudo, 45, is among five individuals suspected of storming the family home of a 13-year-old boy in the middle of the night with masks, heavily armed, and kidnapping the boy.
After holding the teenager under a hefty ransom for 42 days, rescuers carried out a successful operation involving support from French, Dutch, and American authorities. Authorities safely retrieved the boy from his kidnappers in exchange for a €330,000 payment.
A book titled “Not Only Syria? The Phenomenon of Foreign Fighters in a Comparative Perspective,” published in 2016, states that “Bouloudo is one of the most renowned Jihadists from Belgium.”
In 2006, Bouloudo served a five-year prison sentence after being identified as a key figure in the GICM terrorist movement linked to Al-Qaeda and presumably linked to attacks in Casablanca (45 dead on May 16, 2003) and Madrid (191 dead on March 11, 2004).
Accused of radicalizing and recruiting people in Maaseik, Limburg to fight with the Islamic State in Syria, authorities again arrested Bouloudo in 2015 and sentenced him to 10 years for terrorism. However, following an appeal, the court reduced his sentence to three years with parole.
Bouloudo’s involvement in the kidnapping has caused politicians to question why authorities did not follow up with the paroled convict more carefully. Regional parliament members have expressed an outpouring of criticism over the matter.
“How is it possible that someone is paroled and yet can gather weapons, form a gang, and commit such offenses? Surely he should be kept under surveillance?” questioned Kristien Van Vaerenbergh, a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives.
Little information has been released regarding the motives of the kidnapping. However, the boy’s father has a criminal record tied to drug trafficking while his uncle is currently serving a 15-year sentence after being identified as a lead in the European drug trafficking network.
Authorities are tracking the ransom money, used to secure the boy’s safe release, for fear that it will be used to fund terror– or drug-related networks and activities.