If terrorism appears in many of Yasmina Khadra's novels (Oran, 1955), it is because it left a deep mark on the writer when he served as commander of the Algerian army in charge of the struggle against the Armed Islamic Group. The 90s were running and the terrorist organization left a trail of corpses in its wake. "I carried crushed babies in my arms. Those who accuse me of empathy have not understood anything, "warns the writer at the beginning of an interview in his Parisian editorial. He says it because in his new novel, Khalil (Alliance), gets into the skin of one of the kamikazes that perpetrated the attacks on November 13, 2015 in Paris. He does this by adopting the first person and describing in detail the process that takes a street kid to radicalize. It is not about explaining or justifying anything, but about providing a context. "I consider it an absolutely necessary book to avoid that stigmatization that seeks to settle us in discord," says Khadra, in one of his usual attacks on that "intellectual movement" that shakes Islamophobia in France, his adopted country, associating the problem " to the Koran and the prophet. "
I carried crushed babies in my arms. Those who accuse me of empathy have not understood anything
Khadra began to write the book just after the 13-N in Paris, of which this Tuesday marks three years. He let it run a couple of months later, unhappy with the first pages. "I did not resume it until the summer of 2017, when I was vacationing at my home in San Juan, Alicante. Suddenly, the attack happened in Barcelona, The most beautiful city in the world. I was surprised by the reasonable reaction of the Spaniards, who did not make amalgam between terrorists and Muslims. Even the King of Spain took photos with Muslim girls! In France that would be unimaginable … ", says the writer. "Actually, a terrorist is not an extraterrestrial, but the son of a certain society. He is someone who is looking for a family, because his family has ignored him, "adds Khadra.
The author also insists on pointing out the perversion of Islam that jihadism supposes. "I always say that I embody Islam and not the Islamic State. I live without hate and I believe to be a good citizen, a good father, a good neighbor and a good friend. ISIS is a monstrosity that hurts its own people more than any other. "
Actually, a terrorist is not an extraterrestrial, but the son of a certain society
From his experience in the Algerian army he keeps an atrocious memory. "It's a trauma that goes with you for life. It's like surviving the Holocaust or coming back from the war in Iraq: life is not the same again. Leave sequels as a cancer would: you are cured, but you are not safe from a relapse, "compares the writer, who has been writing with a female name for more than 20 years (the real one is Mohamed Moulessehoul). "I chose it to annoy the chauvinists, both in the Muslim world and in the West, and because it is the only way to be worthy of my wife," he says of his pseudonym, made up of his wife's two first names. "I will never write with my real name. People call me Yasmina down the street. Yasmina has millions of readers and has been published in 56 countries. Why should I change it? "
In his book, the resemblance between Khalil and Salah Abdeslam does not go unnoticed, the only one of the terrorists of 13-N who came out alive and that, later, he would confess to his cousin that his explosives belt had failed when he tried to attack the Stade de France. The same happens in the novel. In addition, Khalil also comes from the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, like Abdeslam. Although, according to Khadra, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental. "I was not inspired by Abdeslam. When the explosives belt was discovered, the book was already being manufactured, "he says. "In fact, my editor called me, alarmed. I thought I had obtained that information through my contacts in the secret services, "he smiles.
I always say that I embody Islam and not the Islamic State. I live without hate and I believe to be a good citizen
Khadra ensures that almost everything he writes becomes reality, as if his lines invoke fate. For example in The assault He predicted the emergence of Kamikaze women. In The equation of life, progress was made in the kidnappings of international aid workers in Africa. And in his penultimate book, God does not live in Havana, predicted the Cuban desenclave. "I should be listened to more …", concludes with a mixture of scorn and immodesty.