January 30, 2009


Meet the New Face of Al Qaeda: Few of the deadliest modern-day suicide bombers fit the stereotype of a mass murderer. Here’s a look at four once-average people who epitomize the changing profile of the terrorists we fear most. (Foreign Policy, May/June 2008)

Muriel Degauque

Country of birth: Belgium

Age: 38

Mission: Suicide bombing in Baquba, Iraq

Background: Friends remember Degauque, born a Catholic in the sleepy Belgian town of Charleroi, as an average student who was well-dressed and well-mannered. She converted to Islam after struggling to break addictions to alcohol and drugs. Her religious beliefs reportedly became radicalized after she married a Belgian Muslim who was known to local authorities as an extremist. Traveling to Iraq via Syria in 2005, Degauque died on November 9 of that year when she carried out a suicide bombing attack against a U.S. military patrol.

Why she matters: Terrorism experts believe Degauque was the first European Muslim woman to execute a suicide attack. European women who marry Muslim men are now the largest source of religious conversions in Europe, and European counterterrorism officials are increasingly concerned that female converts represent a small but potentially deadly element of the terrorist threat in Europe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 30, 2009 7:03 AM
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