Osama Krayem

Osama Krayem, a 23-year-old Swedish citizen, is a suspect linked to the March 22, 2016, ISIS attacks in Brussels which killed 32 people and wounded more than 200.Greg Botelho, Paul Cruickshank, and Kevin Conlon, “‘Man in the hat’: Brussels airport suspect in custody,” CNN, April 9, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/09/europe/brussels-attack-arrests-police/;
William Watkinson, “Brussels attack: Who is Osama Krayem the jihadi from Malmo arrested with ‘Man in the Hat’?” International Business Times, April 10, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/brussels-attack-who-osama-krayem-jihadi-malmo-arrested-man-hat-1554105.

Krayem was arrested on April 8, 2016, alongside fellow suspect Mohamed Abrini and two others, known to the public as “Herve BN” and “Bilal EM.”“Brussels group ‘initially planned to hit France,’” BBC News, April 10, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36009196. Krayem was reportedly seen moments before the March 22 attack in Brussels traveling alongside Khalid El Bakraoui, the suicide bomber identified as having been responsible for targeting Maelbeek station, killing at least 20 people and wounding 130.Matthew Weaver, Haroon Siddique, Raya Jalabi, and Claire Phipps, “Brussels: Islamic State launches attacks on airport and station – as it happened,” Guardian (London), March 23, 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/mar/22/brussels-airport-explosions-live-updates. Krayem was reported to have played what European security officials have called an “operational role” in the Brussels attacks,Greg Botelho, Paul Cruickshank, and Kevin Conlon, “‘Man in the hat’: Brussels airport suspect in custody,” CNN, April 9, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/09/europe/brussels-attack-arrests-police/. and has been charged alongside Abrini with “participation to the activities of a terrorist group and terrorist murders.”Greg Botelho, Paul Cruickshank, and Kevin Conlon, “‘Man in the hat’: Brussels airport suspect in custody,” CNN, April 9, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/09/europe/brussels-attack-arrests-police/. He has been caught on camera buying bags at a Brussels shopping mall that were later used by the suspected suicide bombers at Brussels’s Zaventem airport: Khalid el-Bakraoui’s brother Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, and Najim Laachraoui.

According to reports, Krayem is a naturalized citizen of Sweden, with parents who come from Syria.William Watkinson, “Brussels attack: Who is Osama Krayem the jihadi from Malmo arrested with ‘Man in the Hat’?” International Business Times, April 10, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/brussels-attack-who-osama-krayem-jihadi-malmo-arrested-man-hat-1554105. Krayem was reportedly “brainwashed” in Rosengard, a neighborhood in the southwestern Swedish city of Malmo. Rosengard is a major destination point for migrants and immigrants in Sweden, and has been singled out for its high levels of crime and unemployment.William Watkinson, “Brussels attack: Who is Osama Krayem the jihadi from Malmo arrested with ‘Man in the Hat’?” International Business Times, April 10, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/brussels-attack-who-osama-krayem-jihadi-malmo-arrested-man-hat-1554105. Analysts have likened the Swedish neighborhood to the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, which has produced or hosted a large number of violent extremists, including November 2015 Paris attacks suspects Salah Abdeslam, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and Ibrahim Abdeslam; August 2015 train assailant Ayoub El Khazzani; and May 2014 Brussels Jewish Museum shooter Mehdi Nemmouche.Liam Stack, “How Belgium Became Home to Recent Terror Plots,” New York Times, November 15, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/15/world/europe/belgium-terrorism-suspects.html;
Tim Hume, “Brussels raids: Police hit Molenbeek, area at heart of Belgium’s jihadist threat,” CNN, November 16, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/15/europe/paris-attacks-belgium-molenbeek/.

Before taking up violent extremism, Krayem reportedly was a drug abuser and petty criminal.William Watkinson, “Brussels attack: Who is Osama Krayem the jihadi from Malmo arrested with ‘Man in the Hat’?” International Business Times, April 10, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/brussels-attack-who-osama-krayem-jihadi-malmo-arrested-man-hat-1554105. He was reportedly heavily influenced by lectures from deceased American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.Agence France-Presse, “Osama Krayem, a Swedish radical linked to Brussels attacks,” Daily Mail (London), April 9, 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3531796/Osama-Krayem-Swedish-radical-linked-Brussels-attacks.html. According to friends and family, Krayem was reportedly drawn to religion and later extremism at some point in 2015. He quickly became radicalized and even reportedly attempted to recruit members of his mosque to his newly adopted, radicalized ideology. Krayem is reported to have left Sweden for Syria at some point later that year, traveling to ISIS-controlled Deir Ezzor. On September 20, 2015, Krayem returned to Europe via Greece on a falsified passport under the name “Naim al-Hamed.”William Watkinson, “Brussels attack: Who is Osama Krayem the jihadi from Malmo arrested with ‘Man in the Hat’?” International Business Times, April 10, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/brussels-attack-who-osama-krayem-jihadi-malmo-arrested-man-hat-1554105. One month later, in October 2015, he was seen traveling in a car alongside soon-to-be Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam.William Watkinson, “Brussels attack: Who is Osama Krayem the jihadi from Malmo arrested with ‘Man in the Hat’?” International Business Times, April 10, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/brussels-attack-who-osama-krayem-jihadi-malmo-arrested-man-hat-1554105.

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On October 16, 2020, while shouting “Allahu Akbar,” 18-year-old Abdoulakh Anzorov decapitated history teacher Samuel Paty in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Paty had recently received death threats after showing caricatures of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in class as part of a lesson on freedom of speech.  

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