Up to 100 Dutch Muslims are currently fighting in Syria and other countries such as Afghanistan and Somalia, Nos television reported on Tuesday, quoting confidential sources.
This means the Netherlands is one of the biggest suppliers of European jihadist fighters, the broadcaster says, adding that most of them are members of the extremist Al Nusra movement which wants to create an Islamic state in Syria. In the US, the organisation is described as a terrorist movement.
The fighters are in their 20s but some are in their 30s and have left wives and children behind in the Netherlands, the broadcaster says.
Hundreds of European nationals are known to be fighting in Syria and last week two Danish nationals were killed in fighting. Earlier, Dutch photographer Jeroen Oerlemans was captured by British extremists.
The Dutch counter-terrorism body NCTV is due to publish its latest assessment of the terrorist threat in the Netherlands, which is currently officially ‘limited’.
In December the organisation said the situation in Syria is proving a draw to young Dutch jihadists but that only a ‘small group’ were involved.
The broadcaster’s sources, however, say this group is now much larger. In November three radical Muslims who planned to travel to Syria to take part in ‘armed jihad’ were arrested in Rotterdam.