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Netherlands: Integrated Approach to Combatting Jihadism

(Nov. 7, 2014) The Dutch Ministers of Social Affairs and Employment and of Security and Justice have formulated “An Integrated Approach to Jihadism (Integrale aanpak Jihadisme),” the aim of which is “to protect democracy and the rule of law, counter and weaken the jihadist movement in the Netherlands and eliminate the causes of radicalisation.” (Cabinet Strengthens Integrated Approach to Jihadism and Radicalisation, Ministry of Justice and Security website (Aug. 29, 2014).)

The Ministers presented the program to the Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) for consideration on August 29, 2014, and the Tweede Kamer held a debate on the package with the two Ministers on September 4. (Debat over de aanpak van Nederlandse jihadstrijders, Tweede Kamer website (last visited Nov. 5, 2014).) The program encompasses a variety of new measures, some 38 in all, grouped under five topic areas. (Cabinet Strengthens Integrated Approach to Jihadism and Radicalisation, supra; for the full text of the program, see Integrale Aanpak Jihadisme: Overzicht maatregelen en acties [An Integrated Approach to Jihadism: Summary Measures and Actions] (Aug. 29, 2014), Tweede Kamer website.) Highlights of the proposed measures are as follows.

Limitation of Risks from Terrorists

• Amendment of the Dutch Nationality Act to allow more scope to revoke nationality. The change would 1) enable the authorities to revoke the Dutch nationality of jihadists who have no prior criminal convictions who have joined a terrorist group, unless such action would lead to the person’s statelessness and 2) make revocation possible if a person “receives training at a terrorist training camp or contributes, as an instructor, towards the transmission of skills and knowledge to jihadist fighters” and

• Passage of a temporary administrative powers act, “to limit the risks posed by terrorist fighters returning to the Netherlands.” The temporary measures could entail a requirement of periodic reporting to the authorities, “relocation of problem individuals, and the use of restraining orders with a view to avoiding the further radicalisation of returnees, the further spread of radical ideas and further recruitment.” (Id.; Netherlands Nationality Act (as in force on Apr. 13, 2010).)

Intervention to Prevent Departure

In order to prevent individuals from heading from the Netherlands to conflict areas to join violent jihadist groups, such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, criminal law measures would be applied and the individual’s passport revoked if there are reasonable grounds of suspicion that he or she was seeking to leave the country for such purposes. (Id.)

Countering the Use of Social Media for Jihadist Purposes

The Dutch government, in an effort “to counter the spread of online jihadist material which encourages violence, radicalisation or hatred,” plans to identify not only the producers or disseminators of online jihadist propaganda, but also the digital platforms they use for such purposes, and to actively share that information with the agencies competent to take action and with the relevant service providers. (Id.) To achieve this aim, a team of specialists from the National Police will be assigned the task of countering the distribution of such material online and will inform the Public Prosecution Service of any communications that might constitute an offense under current Dutch law. If the material is not voluntarily removed, a criminal order might be imposed on the offender. In addition, the team will make agreements with Internet service providers on applying effective blocks. (Id.)

The authorities will also take action against Internet firms that “persist in facilitating ‘listed’ terrorist organisations by spreading jihadist content even after notification” and publish an updated list of online jihadist websites, including social media. (Id.)

Countering Radicalization and Social Tension

The government will establish a center of expertise to combat the social tensions that can give rise to radicalization. The center is to “carefully monitor neighbourhoods where there is a high risk of conflict, and offer communities practical support.” (Id.) Additionally,

• a knowledge platform aimed at preventing radicalization will provide information to youth, education, and parenting experts;
• multi-annual consultations with imams on how to approach to radicalization and related subjects will be held;
• a national confidential advisor will be appointed to support Muslim community leaders who take a stand against jihadism; and
• a national advisory center will provide support to family members and associates of the radicalized or to jihadist travelers, and under strict conditions assistance will also be offered to extremists seeking to escape from the jihadist movement. (Id.)

Other efforts will be aimed at cracking down on recruiters, those who promote jihadist ideology, and the dissemination of radical messages. To this end, visas will be denied to preachers from outside the European Union who incite hatred and violence; the scope of the Urban Areas (Special Measures) Act will be expanded to keep those who incite hatred out of local areas that are at risk; and in designated areas there will be selective allocation of housing based on criteria related to anti-social or criminal behavior. (Id.; Wet bizondere maatrelegen grootstedelijke problematiek [Law on Special Measures for Problems in Large Urban Areas] (Dec. 22, 2005, as last amended effective Apr. 15, 2014), OVERHEID.NL.)

The government will also soon make available special online and offline means to contact the police anonymously, to report individuals suspected of preparing to commit offenses related to jihadist activity. Educational institutions that have received reports of radicalization or that are aware of radicalization in their midst will receive support from the authorities. In order to mobilize alternative social views, the government will launch small-scale initiatives to “spread opposing messages via local networks and meetings as well as via social media.” (Cabinet Strengthens Integrated Approach to Jihadism and Radicalisation, supra.)

Cooperation

The fifth area of the government’s approach to counter jihadism is the fostering of cooperation in knowledge, expertise, and participation at all levels, local, national, and international; for example, agreements will be forged between the central government and the municipalities concerned with preventing radicalization and managing social tension, while the Netherlands will also promote exchanges of information on terrorists traveling between EU member states. (Id.)

Another means of further cooperation is through strengthening detection of the travel of jihadists. To that end, the Dutch government is preparing legislation to allow the systematic collection and processing of travel data for the purpose of counterterrorism. It is expected that this legislation will be submitted for consultation this year. (Id.)