Reporting from Brussels -- Determined to die as martyrs, the French and Belgian militants bought hiking boots and thermal underwear and journeyed to the wilds of Waziristan.
Instead, the Europeans -- and at least one American -- learned that life in the shadow of the Predator is nasty, brutish and short.
Wary of spies, suspicious Al Qaeda chiefs grilled the half-dozen Belgians and French. They charged them $1,200 each for AK-47 rifles, ammunition and grenades. They made them fill out forms listing next of kin and their preference: guerrilla fighting, or suicide attacks?
Islamic resistance doesn't come cheap
Beyayo is about 5-foot-5, chubby and bespectacled. Like the others, he is of North African descent. He grew up in the tough Anderlecht neighborhood of Brussels, and his brothers have done time for robbery and arms trafficking. But he does not have a criminal record. He interspersed college courses with fundamentalist Islam.
"He is the intellectual of the family," said his lawyer, Christophe Marchand. "He bears no ill will against Belgium. He went to Afghanistan to join an Islamic resistance movement."
Islamic resistance is expensive. The unemployed Beyayo scrounged together about $5,000 for the trip.
The Frenchman Othmani, a father of two, had to borrow about $1,000 from his mother, and he spent hundreds on hiking boots, a sleeping bag, thermal underwear and a "big Columbia-brand jacket for the cold."
The leader was Moez Garsalloui, 42, a Tunisian married to the Belgian widow of a militant who killed Ahmed Shah Massoud, an anti-Taliban warlord, in a suicide bombing two days before the Sept. 11 attacks.
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