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Television appearance Jelle van Buuren on Dutch children in a Jihadist environment

During an episode of Dutch television talk show PAUW on Monday 24 July, presenter Jeroen Pauw discussed the new threat assessment recently published by the Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV). Jelle van Buuren, Assistant Professor Terrorism and Political Violence at Leiden University’s Institute of Security and Global Affairs was one of his guests. They mainly spoke about Dutch children in Jihadist environments.

Most children along with their parents have been placed in camps that are controlled by the Kurds. They cannot be tried there or transported to the Netherlands or other European countries. As a result, the children remain in the camps waiting for the situation to improve. In Syria and Turkey, 150 ISIS followers and approximately 200 children are detained. Most of them, according to the report by the NCTV, still adhere to the ISIS ideology and as a result these foreign fighters are considered to be a permanent threat.

The Caliphate

Van Buuren is convinced that this is terrible news and gave the following explanation: ‘A lot of people seem to believe that now that the Caliphate is gone, the problem has disappeared with it and as a result have reverted to the order of the day. But unfortunately, this is absolutely not the case and the problem still very much exists. This perception does not only apply to these foreign fighters but can be seen worldwide. It is easy to see that there are still networks active and that terrorist attacks are being committed, just think of Sri Lanka. It is easy to see that those networks are very active and that they are committed to a long term vision.’

Choice of policy

Van Buuren continues: ‘Of course there’s a difference between parents who remain fast in their ideology and children. If you look at the Dutch children, approximately 80 – 85% are between 0 – 5 years old. You can’t hold them accountable nor can you claim that they adhere to Jihadist ideologies. But this policy of ‘let’s hope it’ll just go away’ won’t just go away. So you either have a choice to actively bring them back and make sure that you do everything necessary to guide them, which is not without risk but at least you have some control over the situation. Or at some point they will simply vanish only to resurface somewhere else years from now or maybe return to the Netherlands and that’s a completely different scenario… The longer you wait, the bigger the problem will have become.

Watch the segment (in Dutch) on PAUW.

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