BRUSSELS — On the street, Malika El Aroud is anonymous in an Islamic black veil covering all but her eyes.
In her living room, Ms. El Aroud, a 48-year-old Belgian, wears the ordinary look of middle age: a plain black T-shirt and pants and curly brown hair. The only adornment is a pair of powder-blue slippers monogrammed in gold with the letters SEXY.
But it is on the Internet where Ms. El Aroud has distinguished herself. Writing in French under the name “Oum Obeyda,” she has transformed herself into one of the most prominent Internet jihadists in Europe.
She calls herself a female holy warrior for Al Qaeda. She insists that she does not disseminate instructions on bomb-making and has no intention of taking up arms herself. Rather, she browbeats Muslim men to go and fight and rallies women to join the cause.
“Vietnam is nothing compared to what awaits you on our lands,” she wrote to a supposed Western audience in March about wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Ask your mothers, your wives to order your coffins.” To her followers she added: “Victory is appearing on the horizon my brothers and sisters. Let’s intensify our prayers.”
Her prolific writing and presence in chat rooms, coupled with her background, makes her a magnet for praise and sympathy. “Sister Oum Obeyda is virtuous among the virtuous; her life is dedicated to the good on this earth,” a man named Juba wrote late last year.
Now, even as Ms. El Aroud remains under constant surveillance, she is back home rallying militants on her main Internet forum and collecting more than $1,100 a month in government unemployment benefits.
Apparently, the “peaceful” religion of Islam transformed a woman and mother into a into a jihadist butcher simmering with hatred and a death-wish for all the unbelievers. Speaking of internet recruitment, I’ve noticed a lot of Muslims proselytizing via the internet. It’s extremely important to keep countering their ideas. We need to put the growth rate of Islam into the negative. What a beautiful thing that would be.