Hasna Aitboulahcen, the female suicide bomber who detonated her suicide belt when French police surrounded a Paris apartment filled with terrorists, wasn’t always a Muslim extremist. In fact, her neighbors knew her as someone who loved cowboy hats, drank alcohol, and published naked selfies on social media.
Hasna’s former neighbors describe her as an “extrovert” and say she had a “bad reputation” because she was more into men, alcohol and cigarettes than Islam. Her brother Youssouf says Hasna showed little to no interest in her religion. That’s why he was terribly surprised when she started wearing an Islamic headscarf a month ago.
The Moroccan-Belgian Hasna was even an entrepreneur: she owned Beko Construction, which is now at the brink of bankruptcy because of her death.
Although some Muslims — many of whom prefer to deny reality rather than acknowledge the problems existing in their faith and communities — will undoubtedly use this as evidence that the Paris attacks had nothing to do with Islam, it happens rather often that westernized Muslims radicalize in little to no time and end up committing acts of terror.
In recent years, a lot has been written about radicalization of young Muslims, both men and women. One theory is that Muslims with a western lifestyle may end up feeling guilty about their actions. This could make them more prone to radicalization and, eventually, to signing up for terrorist attacks because they believe they have to “make up” for their past behavior. Muslim extremist imams teach their followers that all the sins of a person who “dies for Islam” are forgotten by God; their slate is wiped clean. It’s not difficult to imagine that this may have been the case with Hasna.
To most people it sounds sick and extremely troubling, but to her it was probably a quick and easy way to “get into paradise.”