And those who are training overseas now “can as Dutch citizens return to the Netherlands, ready to answer the call for further action.” “The Dutch Taliban,” from DutchNews, May 13:
Recently growing attention has been given to US citizens who have joined the jihad in Pakistan. But the phenomenon is not limited to Americans, writes Giles Scott-Smith of TheHollandBureau.com.
The story of the men from The Hague who turned up as ‘tourists’ on the Kenya-Somalia border in July 2009 is well known. Now stories are emerging of Dutch involvement in military action against NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The Telegraaf today includes an article on a 21-year-old Dutch-German citizen, Danny R., who has recently been killed in Pakistan. The paper is quoting Der Spiegel, which itself received the information from the German BVD. Danny had chosen the path of radical Islam in Berlin and together with a group from the city travelled to Pakistan last September. So far six known Germans have been killed in fighting in the region, and there has been a lot of attention given to the online exploits of (presumed killed) Eric Breininger / Abdulgaffar El Almani.
As the Telegraaf notes, Westerners are ideal not just as reinforcements but as propaganda material for online video clips, proof that the holy war is supported by the very same nationalities as the enemy NATO forces themselves. As yet, no Dutch citizens have appeared, but it may only be a matter of time.
The Telegraaf quotes an AIVD source that there are around 15 known Dutch jihadis in the region. Alongside this and the Kenya-Somalia case, there have been two Dutch killed in fighting in Kasmir and the arrest of Wesam al-D by US forces for his involvement in IED operations. In total, several tens of Dutch citizens are involved in jihadi activities in various locations. The chosen route for going abroad appears to be via Morocco, and from their to Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, or Pakistan. Others go to attend a madrassa in Egypt.
The concern of the security services is often not just related to what these individuals do in Afghanistan-Pakistan. Following training, they can as Dutch citizens return to the Netherlands, ready to answer the call for further action. However, the AIVD source claims that these Dutch jihadis cannot easily return to the Netherlands because “they have been away too long and on return will be immediately arrested or put under permanent surveillance.”
This last comment is of course the most interesting, because it suggests an all-knowing intelligence and security service that has already identified the right suspects. It is above all a good confidence-building measure to show that the threat is completely covered and will be dealt with should that be necessary.
The recent declarations that the AIVD needs to expand its operations abroad to track developments that may affect Dutch national security is not entirely at odds with this comment, but it does come close. For if the service is already so effective in tracking the main threats, it does raise a question why there is a need to expand its operations….