Around half of the local councils in the Netherlands are doing nothing to prevent youngsters becoming involved with radical Islam, even though the government has given them a major role in combating radicalisation and jihadism, according to justice ministry inspectors.
The inspectors warn that councils which do not have officials trained to identify radicalisation could miss signs that it is occurring, Trouw said on Thursday.
Most of those which have not taken steps to address the issues have populations of below 100,000, with the smallest council areas – up to 50,000 residents – least likely to comply. They argue that radicalisation is not a problem within their boundaries and feel that investment in publicity campaigns or special training for officials is therefore unnecessary, Trouw said.
The local authorities association VNG says, however, that radicalisation occurs throughout the Netherlands so it is important for every municipality, large or small, to address the issue even if there is no concrete evidence of problems.
Although many IS sympathisers come from larger cities, particularly Rotterdam, Delft and The Hague, many have come from smaller towns including Raalte (Overijssel), Leidschendam and Velp (Gelderland).
The government has introduced a raft of measures to try to tackle jihadism, including freezing the bank accounts of IS sympathisers and setting up support centres for the families of jihadists. Dual nationals can also lose their Dutch nationality.
On Wednesday justice minister Stef Blok announced he was withdrawing Dutch nationality from four men who are in Syria, one of whom is thought to be dead.
According to the Dutch counter-terrorism unit NCTV, 280 Dutch people had travelled to the conflict zone up to June of this year.