Wednesday 06 July 2022

Dutch combatants in Syria and Iraq more likely to be Muslim converts

Laura Hansen escaped from IS in Syria earlier this year.

Laura Hansen escaped from IS in Syria in July, having gone with her family to the war zone.

People who converted to Islam are far more likely to travel to fight in Syria and Iraq than the general Dutch Muslim population, according to a report by terrorism specialists.

Of the 280 Dutch ‘jihadgangers‘, 17% are converts, compared to just over 2% of all Muslims, the The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies concluded.

The figures are similar in Germany and France, where respectively 12% and 13% of those who travel to the conflict chose to join the religion.

Reinier Bergema, who carried out the research, also noted that 61% of converts who went to fight in the war were women, even though they made up just 26% of the total number of Dutch combatants.

Experts said converts were more susceptible to radicalisation because they acquired their religion from external sources, which meant they were more likely to be influenced by extremist messages circulating on the internet.

The researchers also found that jihadists were relatively young, with an average age of 23, and were concentrated in Zuid-Holland – 89 out of 163 fighters whose address was known came from the province, including 32 from The Hague.

Around 45% were of Moroccan origin, while 10% were from ethnic Turkish families.

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