NL gets top marks for anti-terror plans

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No image availableNL Times

The EU counter-terrorism coordinator has said that The Netherlands should be proud of its anti-terrorism activities. In an interview with Trouw, coordinator Gilles De Kerchove says that it may be early national terrorism activity such as the murders on Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and Theo van Gogh in 2004 that have afforded The Netherlands the ability to tackle the current situation as well as it does.

In the last year, the number of Europeans traveling to Syria for Jihad has increased tremendously. Of the 2000 that leave this continent to fight in the war-torn Syria, more come from Belgium, France or Great Britain than The Netherlands.

Kerchove believes that The Netherlands has a well-balanced and intelligent counter-terrorism policy. Cooperation between security services on all levels is also a contributing factor to its success.

Concerning the increasing flood of Syria fighters originating from outside Syria, Kerchove has three reasons. The history of Syria and the Levant. It is the place where the first Caliphate of the Umayyads saw the light.

The struggle between the Sunnis and Shiites is growing, with Sunni rebels receiving foreign joiners to fighting against the regime of President Assad.

The third reason is that of romance. Kerchove believes that social media has played a big part in romanticizing war and struggle, which young people are drawn to.

Kerchove also states that recruiters are very active in, for example, his own country of Belgium. The bands of ISIS fighters are a big destination for many of these recruits. Kerchove does emphasize that foreign fighters only make up ten percent of the total fighters striving to take down Assad.

The coordinator praises the Dutch intelligence service, AIVD, for the measures it has implemented to observe returned fighters. He says that these returnees need help with reintegration. Others go into recruiting more people for the ongoing struggle. These people must be watched, Kerchove says.

Countries should also make examples of returned fighters who have to appear before the judge. "To remove the idea that you can travel to Syria or Iraw to fight without repercussions."

Today, Parliament will debate cuts to the AIVD. A majority of parliament does not want to implement cuts, due to the rising threat that returned jihadists pose to The Netherlands. The CDA even wants extra money to be made available for the AIVD.