Young Muslims in the Netherlands are increasingly influenced by “radical Islamic boosters” as they attend after-school classes in Arabic and Islam, the Dutch intelligence service has warned.
The lessons, which are “at first sight accessible and innocent,” risk becoming “a breeding ground” for jihadist converts, the Dutch intelligence and security service AIVD warned in its annual report for 2018. They are concerned that some new “eloquent preachers” have emerged who do not necessarily reject violent jihadist ideology.
Children and young people are alienated from society by this interpretation of education, and may be hindered from their participation in society. This is caused by the intolerant and anti-democratic views of the initiators.
Radical Islam in the Netherlands was on the rise last year, the new report suggests. Dutch intelligence lists 500 people as active members of a jihadist movement in the country with several thousand sympathizers.
In 2018, the Netherlands saw an increased number of attacks led by people motivated by jihadist or other radical Islamic ideology. One of the most striking incidents occurred on August 31, when a 19-year-old Afghan with a German residence permit stabbed and seriously injured two people at Amsterdam’s main train station. The offender claimed he was seeking vengeance for the Prophet Mohammed as Dutch right-wing lawmaker Geert Wilders proposed to hold a competition for cartoons depicting the prophet.
Countering the Islamist threat wasn’t the only thing mentioned in the report. Dutch intelligence also raised concerns about digital espionage. It believes China, Russia and Iran are targeting the country’s sensitive data. According to AIVD, Moscow is trying to get access to details of the MH17 investigation and NATO-related documents. Beijing is also involved in economic espionage, the report claims, saying the country’s key companies – including high-tech, energy, life sciences and health firms – are at risk.
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