Jelle van Buuren on muslim radicalisation in the Netherlands
So called 'jihad municipalities' are being more closely monitored as a result of the arrests on 25 November 2019 of two terrorist suspects from Zoetermeer. Jelle van Buuren, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs, looks back at the latest developments over the last few years.
There are approximately twenty jihad municipalities in the Netherlands. A relatively large number of people travelled to the IS territory from these towns. In the municipality of Zoetermeer, for instance, fifteen inhabitants departed between 2012 and 2016. The neighbouring municipalities, The Hague, Delft and Schiedam are faced with similar numbers of 'leavers'. The twenty jihad municipalities are being monitored closely by the AIVD (Dutch intelligence service) because of the relatively high numbers of jihad fighters. Zoetermeer is among those municipalities. Last Monday a 20-year-old and a 34-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of preparing an attack. According to Jelle van Buuren it is reasonable to assume that these two men have been in contact with IS sympathisers in Zoetermeer and surrounding areas or have been inspired by leavers from the city.
No direct danger
According to experts, Zoetermeer has been faced with youth radicalisation since 2005. Some contribute this radicalisation to Mohammed Talbi, who gained popularity among youngsters because of his Dutch sermons at the Al-Qibla mosque in the Meerzicht district. At a certain point in time Mohammed Talbi himself left for Syria after the mayor of Zoetermeer had forbidden him to visit the mosque any longer. From 2012 several young mosque visitors have left for Syria. It is known that four people have returned to Zoetermeer, but they are not considered a direct threat. Van Buuren: 'I see no signs that there is a locatable core around a mosque or community centre at the moment that the municipality is not aware of. A lot has been learned from the past. Municipalities have very little authority themselves but they are closely cooperating with the police and security services. Insofar that is possible, they have a good picture of all the radicalised inhabitants.’