What ever happened to that kid?

The Setting:  Algeria,  late ’91.’   The confrontation between Islamists and the state was about to reach its climax.  The Islamic Salvation Front was on the verge of winning the elections (and of being banned before they did that) and its top leaders, including the charismatic preacher Ali Belhadj, had just been thrown into jail.  Tensions were soaring and Algeria was on the brink of its seven year descent into living hell. 

In this background, a giant FIS rally was held at an Algiers football stadium.    Stealing the show was Abdelkahr Belhadj, the 7 year old son of the FIS’s #2, who gave perhaps the best public speaking performance ever by a 7 year old.   Standing confidently in front of 30-40 thousand angry supporters, Abdelkahr electrified the crowd-  Watch the clip here.   At first his identity was unclear and many people were wondering who this kid was.  But once they realized it was the imprisoned Ali Belhadj’s son, the place erupted.  

As a sucker for good pep talks (see  here,   here and most especially here), I’ve always wondered what became of this kid.   After all, how many 7 year olds can say they have given a speech in front of 30,000 people? 

Just yesterday, while reading this outstanding article on Algerian Islamism, I learned of his fate.  Unfortunately, he is now a  member_of_Al-Qaeda,or at least of its Algerian affiliate, GSPC.