Dimitri Bontinck, veteran of the Belgian army, lives in Antwerp. He completed seven missions in Syria during which he rescued his son, Jejoen, and other boys who had been radicalized by Islamism. He releases a moving and very particular interview for Tota Pulchra, testimony to an experience of love and redemption.

Hello Mr. Bontinck, you are the author of the book ”The Terrorist Hunter”, an autobiographical book that talks about his life experience which saw him committed to saving young Westerners from enlisting in ISIS. Do you want to talk about it?

For those who do not know my story, when ISIS was at its peak of activity, I went for dialogue and negotiations in Syria for 27 times in order to convince young people that they had taken the wrong path of radicalization, and that violence was not the solution. Every time I tried to redeem them, I risked being detained and harassed and at times I also felt that my life was in grave danger. I suffer from trauma till today. My endeavor took place in the shadow of gruesome acts of hatred and violence all over Europe which seemed never-ending. Events like the 11th March 2004 train bomb attacks in Madrid which left over 190 dead in the center of the city bearing the mark of Al Qaeda, The Double-decker bus bomb attacks in London and the mayhem of fundamentalist terror attacks like the Bataclan massacre in the heart of Paris and the Murder of the Fr.Jaques Hamel in 2016 during Mass in Normandy, tragedies like the one on the Nice promenade ,beheadings of school teachers, and the failed attempt to blow up the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona which was then transformed into a massacre of pedestrians at the Ramblas promenadein August of 2017, haunt me still and demand some form of logical explanation for the root of absurdity and insanity of religious terrorism in modern society. Albeit, sectarian acts of terror were also taking place in war torn Libya where on the beaches of Benghazi ISIS slashed the throats of 21 Christian martyrs alongside the continued bloody attacks of Coptic churches and monks in neighboring Egypt. It looked like that from the very start the proposed Caliphate was going to suffer from an acute crisis of identity just like the young, radicalized people who followed it.

Tell us about how it is possible for a young Westerner to be plagiarized RADICALIZED by Islamist propaganda.

Evidently there is a void in values in the West which is apparently filled by the idea of participating in ”heroic” actions. We have witnessed many a story of youngsters, who were sons of migrants from the Islamic world, who for some reason or other had lost hope or faith in European lifestyle due to exclusion from sociaty. Obviously, waiting for them and watching over them like hawks were recruiters who presented themselves as the true role models and representatives of Islam in Europe. They would present themselves as the best available brotherhoods working hard to convince the ostracized young people that they would never suffer any humiliation again. Problems would be a thing of the past because in the Islamic groups help would be available in all possible forms. Money would be provided and even airplane tickets to Syria with a promise of good high-ranking jobs. Young gullible people were being given the impression that everything was in perfect harmony and that self-realization in Syria would be a piece of cake. Unwanted and dark skinned European young people who had been sidelined because of bearing names like Muhammed or Ahmed would now be easily lured into the ISIS recruitment trap by way of deception being promised something more glitzy than that the dirty odd job they were offered to do in Europe as a last resort. Religious indoctrination would also be used to further brainwash these youngsters by radicalized Imams, by way of playing on their sentiments and scant knowledge of reality. These recruits would be shown videos of Bashar Al Assad’s bombings of innocent Syrian citizens and were made to feel empathy and fraternize with the Cause. They were as young recruits encouraged to take a stand and do something about what they saw in the indoctrinating videos. Radicalization, propaganda and recruitment were also taking place online via the Internet. This is a process which happens very fast. Ten years ago, my own son fell victim to such a trap. The recruiting officers have ever-changing tactics aimed to induce quick radicalization and ten years down the line, the phenomenon is still going on via the world wide web and it change drastically alter the psyche of the recruits in a no time at all, giving them false hopes of a better life, with promises of luxury and funds, career advancement and marriage to a bride. This is all a big deception because upon arrival in Syria they are whisked to the training camps to become unconditional soldiers of Allah and it is a very well known fact that they are made ready for Suicide under the Jihadi premise that upon self-immolation they would end up in heaven and enjoy the seventy-two virgins awaiting them as per the Quranic sacred texts. This is a hellish voyage back to the Middle Ages!

Where does the propaganda of radical Islamic groups mostly take place and if it is still present in Europe, even if it is no longer talked about like a few years ago.

Yes, there is still vicious internet propaganda and vehement hate speech going on, aimed to target and discredit our society and civilization. They consider us as Kufars (non-believers). No matter how many sites get closed down because of hate speech, new one are opened up immediately to compensate for the lost ones. It is a cat and mouse game. They have one vision and they want to dominate the world with Islamist Fundamentalism. One World Order and one World Leadership with suits only them, and them alone. Their duty is to convert and deceive (Taqiya) as many souls as possible. Internet propaganda is rife and out of control. Intelligence officers from Italy and other EU member states require better budgets so that they can keep better vigilance. Some people do not want to hear about these problems because they are convinced that our democracies are safe and we enjoy freedom of speech, religion etc. nobody would wish to live in a State controlled country or a Police state for that matter. In the case of current terror scenarios in places like Israel, Russia and Iran, there needs to be continuous monitoring of radicalization. This is an issue of state security.

In your opinion, does a moderate Islam exist, or does it always appear to be aggressive under an apparent diplomatic veil?

Yes, there are moderate Muslims and I have met them, but there are also some who are like a wolf wearing sheep’s skin. They are venomous snakes waiting to strike. If you are a kufar, then they will never open the door to the path of peace to you. They feel superior to Christians although if they would choose to dialogue with us and behave in a respectful way there may be a ray of hope although we keep running the risk of being stabbed in the back because they have a mindset that their religion alone is the true one.

You are giving this interview for a Catholic inspired association. What contribution can the Church make to the fight against terrorism? Or rather is a firm Christian faith in itself already a testimony against the degenerations and deviations of a misinterpreted belief?

In my opinion, the Pope needs to tour the problematic zones in the world more frequently, stay less in Rome and take stock of the situation. He needs to bring a message of hope and love to all people in suffering where there are conflicts and wars. Communication needs to be enhanced. He has the privilege and power to stop wars with his physical presence. Charitable institutions and organizations like’ Save the children’ and others like them, should be ever more present in the zones of conflict. There should also be a more open dialogue with the Vatican in order to instate Freemasonry as an international and worldwide vessel of peace and charity since by nature it is devoid of all proselytisms which generate conflicts and rivalry between societies and cultures. It is indeed time to pick up the stones and turn swords into ploughshares if Humanity is to survive according to the will of the Great Architect of the Universe. Let us be truly deserving of his great works!

Hope and Peace for the World and that Cristians Jews Moslims and even Hindous will walk hand in hand!

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