National and international fight against jihadism intensified

 The departure and return of jihadis constitutes a lasting threat to the law, order, and security of the Netherlands. The terrorist threat level therefore remains substantial, meaning that there is a real potential for an attack against the Netherlands. This is evident from the Terrorist Threat Assessment Netherlands (Dreigingsbeeld Terrorisme Nederland, DTN) prepared by the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (Nationaal Coördinator Terrorismebestrijding en Veiligheid, NCTV) and the letter on the approach to jihadism sent today to the Dutch Lower House by Minister Opstelten. Together with the 'open memorandum' of the General Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands (Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, AIVD), they confirm the assessment of the threat to the Netherlands of worldwide jihadism.

There are currently approximately 3000 European jihadis. About 130 jihadis originate from the Netherlands and more than thirty of them have since returned. This is reason enough for Minister Opstelten to intensify the fight against the jihadist movement. The problem of jihadism has already been at the top of the Cabinet's agenda for more than a year and a half. Each day, in close collaboration with all relevant partners, the NCTV works on new and better ways to deal with the issue. Recent international developments, such as the attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels and the advance of ISIS in Iraq, demonstrate how actual the threat is to the West and within Europe.

It is unacceptable for Dutch citizens to participate in the violent jihadist fight. It is an undemocratic and extremely intolerant movement that is revealing its true nature in the atrocities committed by terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq. It is a movement that by means of its methods also turns young people in the Netherlands against their own Muslim community and against society at large.

Minister Opstelten therefore emphasises that all available resources are being used to prevent their departure, to remove the risks engendered by returnees, and to prevent the recruitment of new followers. Furthermore, the authorities are actively cooperating with many parties, including those within the Muslim community, to identify radicalisation, to prevent the jihadist movement from gaining new followers, and to put a stop to the spread of the radical message.

There are intensive consultations with European countries that are confronted with the same issues. For example, the minister has recently concluded agreements with nine colleagues about an improved exchange of information about the 3000 European jihadis. This consultation is slated to result in a European action plan to be adopted on 8 July in Milan, Italy. In addition, just like his colleagues, Minister Opstelten emphasises that it is crucial to the fight against terrorism to have access to travel information.

Domestically, the fight is being intensified. The close collaboration of the NCTV with the Public Prosecutions Department, the police, the AIVD, and local authorities is being expanded. There is a widely shared sense of urgency. Clear examples of this are the specific actions that have been undertaken, such as the arrest by the The Hague police of an eighteen-year-old man on suspicion of recruiting persons for the armed fight in Syria. Prior to that, two returnees had already been arrested in Amsterdam and Delft. In addition, the passports of 30 people have been flagged and the benefits of all those that departed have been discontinued. Several minors have been prevented from leaving on the basis of juvenile law. The NCTV is also closely monitoring the online activities of the Dutch jihadis. If those sites glorify the jihadist fight, then the internet service providers (ISPs) hosting them are made aware of their own terms of use. Next week, the NCTV will meet with international ISPs to strengthen the collaboration in this regard.