One of the two terrorists shot dead by Belgian police last week had apparently faked his own death in Syria, so he could return to his home country undetected and attempt a terror attack.
In a sign terrorists are using disinformation to confuse and distract security forces, Islamic State fighters claimed on social media that Tarik Jadaoun, 24, was ‘martyred’ just weeks before he returned to Belgium.
He was shot dead with Redouane Hagaoui, 22, on Thursday by a commando squad in Verviers, near the German border.
Police said the pair were just hours away from launching a sickening plot to behead a police officer.
Jadaoun and Hagaoui had apparently returned from Syria some months ago, after months training and fighting for IS.
In May, IS fighter Hicham Chaib posted a Facebook message claiming Jadaoun was ‘martyred’ in southern Syria.
The post spread immediately across social media, with terrorists praising Jadaoun as a ‘martyr.’ Terrorism experts believe the attempt is a worrying trend among Western jihadis.
At least one fighter from Britain is thought to have used a similar ruse to return to the UK from Syria, before being arrested and charged with terror offences.
A security source said: ‘We are always suspicious when there is a claim on social media someone has died in Syria or Iraq. It’s an easy claim to make and we don’t have the means of verifying it with checks on the ground.’
Security expert Professor Anthony Glees, of Buckingham University, said: ‘This shows that IS not only understands how to manipulate social media but how important it is as a tactic of terrorism.