Wednesday 28 July 2021

We can’t cope with treating returning jihadis, says The Hague’s mayor

jozias van aartsenNational government should have a central role in the screening and treatment of people returning from fighting for Islamic militias in Syria and Iraq, according to The Hague’s mayor Jozias van Aartsen.

He has written to the city council saying that the city lacks the expertise to treat people suffering from war-related traumas and that social workers are not equipped to judge if returnees form a risk to society.

‘The entire aftercare process rests on the voluntary cooperation of the returnee,’ the mayor points out. At least six Dutch returnees are living in The Hague.


People returning from the fighting should be screened by behavioural experts and, if radicalised, should be treated at a central location until they no longer form a danger to society, Van Aartsen is quoted as saying by broadcaster Nos.

According to the AD, justice minister Ivo Opstelten is already looking at the option of placing returnees in special prison units for treatment.

On Wednesday, the Dutch counter terrorism unit NCTV said around 100 Dutch nationals are thought to be active in the Middle East, including 30 women.

Around 30 have returned to the Netherlands and the passports of 52 people have been cancelled to stop them leaving the country.

The unit’s chief Dick Schoof said the organisation has come across 33 cases of would-be jihadis involving children. In 25 cases, parents were suspected of planning to take their children abroad and in eight cases the would-be jihadi was a minor, he said.

Schoof said he is disturbed by the fact so many people are still travelling to Syria and Iraq. ‘That means people are still joining a terrorist organisation, being exposed to violence, possibly trained and therefore forming a danger to the Netherlands if they come back,’ he told broadcaster Nos on Wednesday.

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