Cabinet strengthens integrated approach to jihadism and radicalisation

There is no place in the Netherlands for hate speech or for extremism. The jihadist movement goes against everything that our democracy represents.

These are some of the key points made by Minster of Social Affairs and Employment Lodewijk Asscher and Minister of Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten in a letter to the House of Representatives on 'An Integrated Approach to Jihadism', a new programme of action which aims to protect democracy and the rule of law, counter and weaken the jihadist movement in the Netherlands and eliminate the causes of radicalisation.

Jihadism poses a substantial threat to the national security of the Netherlands and to the international legal order. This threat requires a strong, integrated approach. The government is therefore adopting a number of additional measures which build on current anti-jihadist policy. This underlying methodology is both preventive and reactive. Implementing these new plans requires cooperation between all partners, both national and local, government and civil society, regardless of religion or beliefs.

Limiting risks

There will soon be more scope for revoking Dutch nationality. In the autumn, the Netherlands Nationality Act will be amended with the aim of revoking the Dutch nationality of jihadists without previous criminal convictions who have joined a terrorist group. This step will only be taken, however, in cases where it will not lead to statelessness.

Soon, it will also be possible to revoke an individual's Dutch citizenship if he or she receives training at a terrorist training camp or contributes, as an instructor, towards the transmission of skills and knowledge to jihadist fighters. Early next week, a bill providing for such measures will be presented to the House of Representatives.

In addition, a temporary administrative powers act will be passed, intended to limit the risks posed by terrorist fighters returning to the Netherlands. The temporary measures being considered include a requirement to periodically report to the authorities, the relocation of problem individuals, and the use of restraining orders with a view to avoiding the further radicalisation of returnees, the further spread of radical ideas and further recruitment.

Intervening to prevent departure

The government wishes to prevent individuals from leaving for conflict areas in order to join violent jihadist groups such as ISIS, al Qa'ida and Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. Measures will be taken under criminal law if there is a reasonable suspicion that an individual is seeking to leave the country for jihadist purposes. Should there be good reason to expect that this is the case, the person's passport will be revoked.

Social media

The government also wishes to counter the spread of online jihadist material which encourages violence, radicalisation or hatred. Both those who produce/disseminate online jihadist propaganda and the digital platforms they misuse for this purpose will be identified. This information will be actively shared with the agencies competent to act and the relevant service providers (including internet services).

A specialist team from the National Police will focus on countering the online distribution of this material. This team will inform the Public Prosecution Service as to communications which may constitute an offence under existing law. If the material is not removed in accordance with the voluntary code of conduct, a criminal order may follow. The team will also make agreements with internet firms on imposing effective blocks.

The authorities will crack down on internet firms which persist in facilitating 'listed' terrorist organisations by spreading jihadist content even after notification. An updated list of online jihadist websites (including social media) will also be published. Communities, professionals and parents can use this list to warn those close to them.

Radicalisation and social tension

Social tension can be a cause of radicalisation. A centre of expertise will therefore be established in order to combat this. This centre will carefully monitor neighbourhoods where there is a high risk of conflict, and offer communities practical support. A knowledge platform for the prevention of radicalisation will provide youth, education and parenting experts with information. This places them in a good position to spot suspicious behaviour and act early on, as soon as young people begin to disengage from society.

There will also be multi-annual consultations with imams on the approach to radicalisation, education, discrimination and Islamophobia. A national confidential advisor will support key figures from the Muslim community who promote an alternative view and take a stand against jihadism. A national advisory centre will offer support to family members and associates of radicalised individuals or jihadist travellers. Assistance will be offered, under strict conditions, to extremists who wish to escape from the jihadist movement.

In addition, the government wishes to deal with recruiters more forcefully, disrupt promoters of jihadist ideology and call a halt to the spread of radical messages. Preachers from outside the European Union who incite hatred and violence will be denied a visa. In countering the spread of jihadist messages by radical preachers, the authorities will work closely with Dutch mosques and imams. The scope of the Urban Areas (Special Measures) Act will be extended to keep out persons who incite hatred out of local risk areas. In certain designated areas, housing will be selectively allocated on the basis of criteria relating to anti-social or criminal behaviour.

Soon members of the public will be able to contact the police anonymously, both online and offline, if they suspect that someone may be preparing to commit offences or engaging in jihadist activity. Support will be given to educational institutions where reports of radicalisation have been received or where radicalisation is known to be occurring, and to educational institutions which request assistance in this area.

The government also wishes to mobilise alternative social views. In this case, small-scale initiatives will spread opposing messages via local networks and meetings as well as via social media. An example of such an initiative might be a local information session about recruitment practices and the online dangers facing young people. The government also wishes to encourage the Muslim community to make anti-jihadist statements by well-respected foreign scholars accessible to Dutch-speaking target audiences.

Cooperation

Finally, the government is investing in knowledge, expertise and participation at local, national and international levels. Central government and the municipalities concerned will make agreements on preventing radicalisation and managing social tension, thus cementing the integrated approach and cooperation between municipalities, local partners (welfare, social affairs), educational institutions and the police.

The Netherlands is committed to proactively and systematically promoting the exchange of information on terrorist travel between EU member states. The Netherlands also wishes to strengthen the detection of jihadist travel movements. A bill allowing the systematic collection and processing of travel data for the purpose of counterterrorism is being prepared and will be submitted for consultation this year.