An unknown number of Dutch nationals may have ended up on a US list of terrorism suspects even though they are not under suspicion of extremism in the Netherlands, according to research by investigative website Follow the Money.
The problem dates back to 2012 when thousands of radical youngsters left Europe for Syria to join jihadist movements such as IS.
Since then the police and security services have kept a register naming those who have left plus their family members and friends. The LOP list also includes youngsters who were not radical but whom the police feared could get caught up in jihadist groups.
The Dutch police share the list with US officials, which then includes the names on its Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), set up in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks in 2001.
Last week justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz confirmed in a briefing to parliament that the Dutch list is sent to the US.
In total, the details of hundreds of Dutch nationals have been passed on to the US authorities, and this may include people who have never been suspected of a crime, FTM said. In 2018, the list included 440 names, including 40 minors.
Inclusion on the list makes it more difficult to travel and impossible to get a visa for the US. The US in turn shares the database with dozens of other countries, making the situation worse.
Several Dutch nationals told FTM that they had been arrested at a Turkish airport and sent back to the Netherlands for no good reason.
According to an internal police memo seen by FTM, it was not until February 2022 that it was decided to no longer send the names of potential jihadis to the US. “We have since come to the conclusion we should be more reticent about providing [information] for the TSDB,” the memo said.
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