The Dutch Algemene Inlichtingen en Veiligheidsdienst (AIVD – General Intelligence and Security Agency) has released its annual report 2008. According to the AIVD the following developments with regard to ‘jihadi terrorism’ have occurred:
- The threat for a terrorist attack in the Netherlands remains substantial. The Islamdebate in the Netherlands contributes to this profile as does Wilders’ film Fitna although it did not evoke strong reactions after its release.
- According to the AIVD there has occurred a strategic reorientation among jihadi’s from targets in Islamic countries to Western targets that would cause less Muslim victims.
- One of the threats for the Netherlands is coming from the Pakistani-Afghani border region. One of the arguments to substantiate this threat is the increase in numbers of Europeans who join a military training in that region. When they return to Europe they do not only have the ability to carry out attacks but they can also support and lead others. No participation of Dutch people has been identified however.
- The terrorist threat in the Netherlands pertains more and more to transnational networks instead of local, home-grown networks. The local networks are very divided and lack leadership. There have been no terrorist incidents that can be traced back to local networks. One person in The Hague has been arrested because he seemed to have radicalized in a short period of time and was in the possession of fire arms. No terrorist link could be established however and the person was convicted for possession of illegal fire arms.
- An Algerian member of a network of twelve persons involved in recruiting people for the violent Jihad was arrested and deported out of the country. This network was arrested for the first time in 2002 but released. Since then several members have been deported and others arrested several times. The network more or less ceased to exist.
- A Moroccan national has been identified as a threat to national security because of his sympathy for the international violent jihad, has contacts with like-minded people abroad and support those people. He has been declared ‘persona non grata’ and will be deported to Morocco. In another report the AIVD concluded that an another man from the same family rejects the democratic order. This may prevent him to obtain Dutch nationality.
- The AIVD released a report about a Turkish man who travelled, via Turkey, to the Pakistani-Afghani border region to participate in the international violent Jihad. In the report the AIVD stated that he is a threat to national security and he also has been declared ‘persona non grata’.
- In May 2008 the National Police arrested a Turkish-Dutch man on behalf of the French authorities. According to the AIVD the person was the centre of a international facilitating network affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
- In August 2008 a Pakistani student, Aqeel A., has been arrested on behalf of the Spanish authorities who consider him a fullmember of a Jihadi cell in Barcelona that was to a large extent (fourteen people) arrested on 18 and 19 January 2008. Aqeel was supposed to commit a (suicide) attack in Germany. He was arrested already in March 2008 in Breda and suspected of participating in an international Jihadi network that prepares for attacks in Europe. He had to be released then due to a lack of evidence but was declared ‘persona non grata’ later.
- Salafi centres are more moderate in public than in their own circles. Well-known salafi centres have moderated themselves in public because of media-attention, political pressures and critical reactions for the Moroccan-Dutch community. One tries to create the impression that they support integration of Muslims in the Netherlands but at the same time in closed circles polarizing statements are made that can have negative effects on society in the long term. The centres want to develop Salafism into an authoritative and influential movement.
- The ability for self-cleansing seems to be stronger; extremists are kept out. The As Soennah mosque has refused a group of extremist youth access to the mosque and reported them to the police.
- The ability to resist radical factions has increased. More and more Muslims publicly denounce the message of Salafi centres. Within the Turkish-Dutch community the resistance against radical Islamic ideologies remains high. Moderate groups such as the Diyanet and the moderate-islamist Milli Gorus play an important role. A few individuals however have turned away, partly influenced by radical islam websites. The Moroccan-Dutch community is still fertile recruiting ground for the radical movements. The Moroccan-Dutch who lack recognition and acceptance by society find eachother in shared grievances about their position. They meet on the internet and at lectures of youth preachers. The radical Islamic youth culture brings about a shared identity in Dutc society, recognition and positive self-esteem. These Moroccan-Dutch youth continue to radicalize but only in very low now numbers. More and more Muslims express their grievances in a democratic and non-radical activism such as demonstrations, petitions, fund raising, letters to the editors and call for boycots.
- The number of extremists statements by radical islamists on the Internet has not increased. A significant number of Dutch language Islamic sites carries a Salafi message. The number of extremist expressions and threats has slightly decreased, partly because of a strict policy on several large webfora and a decreasing interest among youth for radical expressions on the Internet. The existing (less than 10) Jihadi websites are already several years old and hardly updated if at all. Most of the material to be found on these sites originates from a small number of Arabic Jihadi sites. The technical problems of those sites in the last year did not affect the Dutch sites.
A few comments by me:
- With regard to terrorism, it is striking how shaky sometimes the allegations against people are. Is rejecting democracy really enough to be declared ‘persona non grata’?
- In my opinion the distinction between transnational networks and local, home-grown, networks is too strong. There have been and still are connections to several local and transnational networks.
- If we are talking about transnational links, where is the analysis of the relationship between the UK-Belgium-The Netherlands-Germany? One of the cases mentioned above has a clear relation with a recent arrest in the UK (to be clear I’m talking about suspects here, not convicted people).
- With regard to radicalization, the janus face of Salafism is a hot topic that has led to a brochure on the ‘facade politiek’ (political facade) of the Salafi movement that stimulates the municipalities to look beyond their first impressions of the Salafi movement. It more or less institutionalizes the official distrust towards Salafi networks. I have said it already after the latest report of the AIVD; the way things are now as a Salafi mosque you can never do well; you either isolate or infiltrate. I think labelling the Salafi movement is a dangerous and very ineffective way for dealing with all kinds of problems.
- The AIVD still sees shared grievances as a main cause for (radical) activism. This does play a role but is not enough. One of the things is that you don’t have to be radical Muslim to criticize Dutch society or the policies of the Dutch government.
- The AIVD sees the lack of reaction on the movie Fitna as a sign of stronger resillience. I still doubt that. I think the lack of reaction is the result of apathy which is a result of the enormous amount of attention for Islam, the double bind against Muslim groups (see 4) and the earlier insults against them and the backlash after the murder of Van Gogh; subordination by humiliation.