News / Europe

    Spy Service Warns Dutch Islamist Radicals Becoming Elusive 'Swarm'

    FILE - Jihadi-led rebel fighters in Syria kill and abduct civilians during an offensive against pro-regime villages, committing a war crime, an international human rights group, Oct. 11, 2013.
    FILE - Jihadi-led rebel fighters in Syria kill and abduct civilians during an offensive against pro-regime villages, committing a war crime, an international human rights group, Oct. 11, 2013.
    Reuters

    Radical Islamist groups in the Netherlands have become a decentralized and elusive “swarm” that may broaden their focus from the conflict in Syria to the wider Middle East, the Dutch intelligence service warned on Monday.

    Its report reflects widespread concern in Europe at the threat posed by European citizens - mainly from Islamic immigrant milieus - leaving to fight in Middle East conflicts, then returning battle-hardened and posing security threats.

    Dutch authorities estimate that 120 Dutch citizens have  fought in Syria's civil war, with 14 having died in combat, and that there are hundreds of jihadi militants in the country eyeing missions abroad, with thousands more sympathizers.

    The Dutch General Intelligence and Security Agency (AIVD) said in its latest assessment of the threat posed by underground jihadi groups that they were stronger and more self-confident.

    It said such militants continued to pose a “substantial” threat to the Netherlands, one notch below the highest alert.

    Most of the potential fighters were of Moroccan background although some were native Dutch converts to Islam.

    The agency said the phenomenon was becoming ever harder to track as social media made it possible for increasingly “professionalized” radical movements to coordinate themselves without the need for a centralized authority.

    “The movement has taken on the character of a swarm,” the agency said. “There is a less hierarchical structure than at the turn of the millennium, which makes it more flexible, effective and less vulnerable to 'attack' from outside.”

    European governments have struggled to stop their nationals, some just teenagers, from traveling to Syria where the conflict, which began as peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad and evolved into an armed rebellion is now in its fourth year. More than 160,000 people have been killed.

    Crackdown on would-be jihadis

    An 18-year-old man was recently arrested in The Hague on suspicion of recruiting people to take part in the Syrian conflict, the Dutch anti-terrorism coordinator said on Monday.

    Dutch authorities have blocked student grants and welfare payments to more than 30 people suspected of preparing to join wars abroad, and frozen the assets of several others.

    Other measures under review include stripping suspected militants of their Dutch nationality. A draft law has been submitted for review to the country's highest legal advisory body, Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten told parliament on Monday.

    “It is unacceptable for Dutch citizens to take part in the jihadist movement and in violent jihad, regardless of where it takes place,” he said in a letter. “All possible means will be used to disrupt travel plans, to reduce the risk posed by those returning and to prevent recruiting of new supporters.”

    Prosperous and with an economy that recovered and grew fast after World War II, the Netherlands opened its doors to immigration from Morocco and Turkey in the 1960s, and today some 5 percent of the population is of Islamic heritage.

    But as growth has slowed and jobs become scarcer in recent years, radical Islam has gained currency in some immigrant communities, raising the concern of state authorities.

    The Dutch intelligence service warned that radicals in the Netherlands might turn their attention towards fighting in other current or potential Middle East conflict zones.

    “For now, Dutch jihadis are heavily focused on Syria, but that could change,” the AIVD report said. “It could involve existing conflict zones likes Yemen and Iraq, but even potential new zones like Egypt - including Sinai, or Libya.”

    Would-be fighters in Middle East conflicts are growing more skilled at evading the attention of authorities, buying return tickets to the region and posing as tourists, it said.

    “News from conflict zones in Syria is spread rapidly via chat, Facebook and email within hours or even in real time within a jihadi inner circle in the Netherlands,” said the report. It added that the number of jihadist publications in Dutch had increased sharply over the past two years.

    The French citizen suspected of shooting dead four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May spent time fighting in Syria. The Dutch report said some 3,000 European had gone to Syria to fight alongside Islamist rebels.

    The Brussels attack “illustrates that the threat posed by returning jihadist fighters is Europe-wide,” Opstelten wrote. “That means that there is a risk posed by all returning Syria fighters, also to the Netherlands.”  

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora