Brussels Terrorist Featured in Immigrant Integration Film

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Osama Krayem, arrested earlier this month for his involvement in the Brussels bombings, was once featured in a film about integration of immigrants in Sweden.

As reported by the Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, Krayem’s parents, who were originally from Syria, were keen that their son would fit into Swedish society.

One of the ways the family sought integration was through sports for their sons. Krayem was 11 years old, he and his brother participated in a sports club in Malmo. In 2005, Krayem, his brother and father were featured in a documentary movie about the club called “Without Borders: A Film About Sport and Integration.”

Christer Girke, marketing manager of the club, said of the movie, “We wanted to show the importance of integration… the boys were to go to the association to see what the other Swedes did and get to know the [football] associations were important, how it can be a gateway to jobs and much more. I understood what the father wanted the boys would be part of the community.”

At the time of the film’s release, Girke had said, “Ninety percent of our members have a migrant background, as this integration is something I think a lot about. With this project we want to take responsibility for how the society we are all in will be formed.”

Raised in the Rosengard neighborhood of Malmo – an immigrant section of the city similar to Molenbeek, Brussels — Krayem’s parents moved out of the neighborhood when Krayem was a teenager.

Krayem’s soccer coach recalled, “The impression I got was that the father wanted to make sure that the boys would get to see something other than Rosengard, and I know they moved out so that the children would go to a school that was considered better.”

“Osama was sullen and stayed in the background. But he was a good player and always one of the gang. There was never any problem with him,” he added.  

A former schoolmate concurred. “He always kept a very low profile. It was noticeable that he was religious, he was not partying or drinking, but there was nothing that made that I perceived him as extreme in any way,” said Jonathon Basualto, now 22.

The one thing Basualto did notice was that during Krayem’s third year of high school, he started to behave a little differently. More and more he was hanging out with students who were unruly and skipping school.

At some point, police began to keep track of Krayem because of his close ties to criminals.

In the spring of 2013 when he was 20 years old, Krayem was hired as a construction worker. A month later, he got a job with the city of Malmo in service management. At this point, Krayem began getting more religious and quickly became radicalized. After saving money for working for the city for a year, one day Krayem just didn’t show up for work.

Instead he went to Syria. By January 2015, Krayem began posing pictures of himself on social media, posing with guns and an Islamic State flag. Still, his old friend was not suspicious. “I thought that's what young people do. There is a strange idea of ??what's cool. Although he put up that kind of images, I could never imagine that he would do something to hurt someone else,” Basualto said.

At some point, Krayem traveled to Greece, acquiring a fake passport and posing as a refugee. He made his way to Germany, where he was picked up by Salah Abdeslam, one of the materminds behind the Paris attacks. Abdeslam brought him to Molenbeek, Brussels.

Minutes before the attack on the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels, Krayem, can be seen with one of the Brussel’s suicide bombers Khalid el-Bakraoui.  The two departed, with Krayem heading off with a bag full of explosives to another location.

At the last moment, he backed out of the mission.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org