Wednesday, March 13, 2013

13-Mar-13: What happens when European Islamists head off to fight for jihad... and then return home?

[Image Source]
From an AP report, "The Netherlands raises terror threat" today (March 13, 2013).
The Dutch government raised its terror threat Wednesday amid concerns that Dutch citizens traveling to Syria to fight in the civil war could return battle-hardened, traumatized and further radicalized. The government cited the threat posed by jihad fighters returning from Syria, where rebels are battling government forces, and signs of increasing radicalization among Dutch youth as key reasons for lifting its threat level from “limited” to “substantial.” The level now is the second-highest on the four-step scale, just below “critical”... The warning comes just two months before hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend on Amsterdam for mass celebrations around the abdication of Queen Beatrix and coronation of her son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.
Counter-terror chief Dick Schoof said nearly 100 people had travelled from the Netherlands to Africa and the Middle East, mainly to Syria, to fight, and warned that it is not just a Dutch problem. “These jihadist travelers can return to the Netherlands highly radicalized, traumatized and with a strong desire to commit violence, thus posing a significant threat to this country”... More intelligence staff are monitoring “jihadist travelers” and police are stepping up efforts to tackle radicalization in Dutch towns and cities.
Last month, France also expressed concerns about its citizens heading to Mali to join radical Islamic fighters there, even as the French army was fighting the Muslim rebels in its former colony. French police arrested four youths last month suspected of trying to join radical Islamic fighters in West Africa, and expelled radical imams and others considered risks to public order.
Germany’s Interior Ministry said Wednesday that in 2012, some 220 people from across Europe went to Syria to fight. Of those, fewer than 10 were from Germany. The majority of German “jihadi travelers” picked Egypt as their first destination in 2012, and then traveled on either to Mali, Syria or Yemen, according to German intelligence information.
Police in the port city of Rotterdam arrested three men in November on suspicion of preparing to travel to Syria to fight alongside rebels.
A Dutch news report says the authorities there are especially troubled by 
signs of increasing radicalisation among Dutch youngsters and the increase in the number of jihadists travelling to fight in Syria... Up to 100 Dutch Muslims are currently fighting in Syria and other countries such as Afghanistan and Somalia. This means the Netherlands is one of the biggest suppliers of European jihadist fighters... 
Mrs Samir Azzouz, being extended the democratic privilege of "strongly
condemning" the imprisonment and conditions of her jihadist husband [source]
Here's an indication of how it works. The Dutch authorities arrested and convicted a Dutch-born jihadi terrorist called Samir Azzouz in December 2006 and sentenced him to eight years imprisonment; he will be out, at the latest, next year

His wife was recently interviewed on a Dutch TV program [video here]. Unexpectedly (!) she "strongly condemned the way her husband is being treated". He is serving time for multiple offences including plotting to murder former prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende and other political figures, attempting to procure heavy firearms, and planning terrorist attacks. Some years earlier, in June 2004, he was arrested (not for the first time) for the armed robbery of a supermarket. Police found evidence that he was planning several attacks on Dutch targets including Schiphol Airport and the nuclear power plant in Borssele. They found maps of these targets, chemicals for explosives, and ammunition. Azzouz is incarcerated in the highest security prison in the country, Nieuw Vosseveldwhere he is the only prisoner. 

Watching, and listening to, the complaints of his veiled wife is almost as breathtaking as observing the incredibly polite restraint of the interviewer and the audience. He's not a security risk, she says, and what's being done to her sociopathic, attempted-murderer husband in that Dutch prison is "horrible".

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