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Liesbeth van der Heide as guest on Dutch television programme ‘Nieuwsuur’ on the reintegration of terrorists

On Monday 29 April, Liesbeth van der Heide, researcher at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs of Leiden University, was a guest on the Dutch television programme ‘Nieuwsuur’. She reflected on the interview with Jason Walters, a former member of the Dutch Hofstad terrorist group. The ‘Hofstad group’ was the first home grown Dutch Jihadist group.


Van der Heide is involved with the process to reintegrate dozens of jihadists and extreme right radicals. She also spoke extensively with Walters. ‘In my opinion, he did not come across as a typical radical Muslim, notably because he is such a thinker and so preoccupied with his ideology.’ As an example, Van der Heide states that most of the people she interviewed claim to be motivated by their ideology or religion but only base their claims on a few limited concepts ‘such as we have to establish a caliphate or travel to the caliphate, but that’s about it’. Van der Heide believes that other motives are more important but for Walters, however, ideology was the main motive.

Confidential Advisor

The prisoners are matched with a confidential advisor tasked to change their way of thinking. ‘You’re mainly trying to shift people’s perspective ideologically away from their black&white frame and pull them into the grey, as the probation services call it. To show them so much more and with more different shades and that there isn’t one absolute truth. You are also teaching people to become more tolerant and accepting of the fact that other people have different opinions,’ according to Van der Heide.

Watch the entire segment (Dutch) on Nieuwsuur (starts at22:45).

Photography by 'De Volkskrant'

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