As France bombs ISIS targets in Syria following the horrific attacks in Paris, experts warned the roots of the onslaught were much closer to home: young people turning to radical Islam because they don't feel they belong in Europe, NBC News reported.
At least half of the extremists who killed nearly 130 people on Friday are thought to have been raised in France and neighboring Belgium.
Security forces have zeroed in on a poor Molenbeek suburb of Brussels, where several people were detained in a series of raids since the ISIS-linked attacks. Tiny Belgium — with a population of just 11 million — has the highest number per capita of militants fighting in Syria and Iraq, experts say. Many are from Molenbeek, which has a long history of links to extremism.
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Molenbeek provides a grim lesson of what is happening in other parts of Europe, according to Adam Deen, a former British radical who is now part of U.K. anti-extremist organization the Quilliam Foundation. Muslims are increasingly being offered a very narrow interpretation of Islam — Wahhabism, the strict sect aggressively promoted by Saudi Arabia throughout the world, he said.
"What this does is create a sense of alienation from the place you were born and brought up. You begin to hate the society you were brought up in," said Deen, who says he still practices Islam but has abandoned extremism. "Now what happens is that any Muslim who wants to be active within the Muslim community, the default position is Wahhabism or a varied form of it."