The Volkskrant carried a long email interview on Saturday with someone using the name Abu Fidaa, who claims to be a Dutch jihadist fighting with rebel forces in Syria.
While admitting it cannot be 100% certain Fidaa is genuine, the Volkskrant says it was put in touch with him by Azzedine Choukoud, also known as Abou Moussa, who is one of the recruiters parents have complained about.
Choukoud contacted the paper after it claimed Dutch youths were being used as cannon fodder. The interview is illustrated by photographs of the alleged jihadists which were sent by Fidaa.
In the emails, sent between May 26 and June 12, Fidaa writes that he and his fellow fighters think there are 100 to 150 Dutch youths in Syria. ‘We are spread over several locations with brothers from other countries to ease the integration,’ he writes. ‘The other brothers come from Belgium, Germany, Canada and Russia.’
Two Dutch fighters have died so far. ‘Brothers Mourad and Yasin died as martyrs in a battle for a large army base,’ he writes.
The fighters pay for their own trips. ‘The cost of a plane ticket, hotel and taxi come to a couple of hundred euros. And living here is very cheap,’ he writes. ‘We get a good monthly amount and if you are involved in a field battle you normally get part of the spoils.’
Fidaa denies that youths are being recruited against their will. ‘What use are young men who don’t want to fight?’ he asks. ‘If youngsters are being recruited it is by the west thanks to its barbaric wars in Muslim countries. The years of images we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan have planted a longing for jihad in our hearts.’
Fidaa refuses to say which group the Dutch jihadists are fighting with for ‘security reasons’. While the FSA is secularist and democratic, all the different factions fighting you can see as parts of a single Muslim army, he says.
For example, Fidaa says Western criticism of the al-Nusra rebel group is unjust. ‘It is surprisingly heartless how the west worries about the political influence of this group. They [the west] are left cold by the 100,000 Syrian deaths,’ he writes.
In another section, he comments on the need for Muslims to protect themselves. ‘As a Muslim you know you have many enemies who can strike at any moment,’ he says. ‘Look at what happened between the Bosnians and the Serbs who lived in peace for years.’
‘In the Netherlands Wilders has been given a podium in the political arena to make the most racists statements. We advise Muslims to seriously think about emigrating,’ he wrote.
‘We know the west will spend all its money, use every conspiracy theory it can… to combat the Muslims and Mujahideen in Syria who chose Sharia over democracy,’ he wrote. ‘We have seen this in Afghanistan, Yemen, Waziristan, Somalia, Mali. We expect this conflict will come to Syria as well when Bashar has fallen.’
Fidaa writes that it ‘may seem strange’ but he has not seen anyone who has developed problems after killing Bashar’s soldiers or has seen dead bodies.
‘Stranger still, the brothers who have managed to kill one of Bashar’s soldiers have finally been given peace in their hearts. Protecting the people against murderous soldiers… gives satisfaction. Muslims in the west who are looking on helplessly need psychiatric help, not us. Jihad in Syria has a therapeutic effect.’
Asked about what they missed from home, Fidaa mentioned drop (liquorice) and a simple cheese roll. ‘And a mochachino iced coffee from the petrol station… but most of all we miss our mothers’ cooking.’