Jihad recruiters were "big fish": Mayor

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The Hague's Schilderswijk has been freed of two big name recruiters for jihad. The arrests come with a collective sigh of relief as the Algemeen Dagblad reveals that Rudolph H. and Azzedine C., alias Abou Moussa, had been on the police radar for almost two years.

The Hague's Mayor Jozias van Aartsen is also happy that these "two big fish" are behind bars. "These men played a prominent role at the demonstrations of the last weeks. Their arrests are of great importance for the city and the state. And in particular for the Schilderswijk", the Mayor says. "That neighborhood was desperate for the arrest of these suspects."

Abou Moussa has been very active in the streets. Police started investigating him in 2013 when parents filed reports about his activities as a recruiter for Jihad. Despite the case against him, Moussa continued with his activities, and even brought De Volkskrant in contact with Syria fighters for an interview.

In September 2013, he arranged a "friendly football game" with dozens of other muslims. Instead, the gathering was organized to demonstrate for Jihad. Police stormed the field. C. told De Volkskrant that the flags they hung were "an Islamic flag with the seal of the prophet", one that was also used by some chapters of Al Qaeda.

Abou Moussa gained confidence this year, becoming much more prolific on social media as well as the streets, openly calling for support to IS on Twitter as well as his website The True Religion (De Ware Religie) and news channel Nieuwsuur on the 30th of June. He also took part in the pro-Gaza demonstration of the 24th of July.

Both Abou Moussa as well as Rudolph H. played a leading role in gathering vulnerable and impressionable youths for the extremist struggle. They called The Hague out to 'Jihad City', and showed The Netherlands the darkest side of Islam, as the Algemeen Dagblad writes.

The AD writes that the two suspects went so far as to encourage youths to carry weapons at demonstrations, gatherings and on the street. "The men tried to get people crazy enough to travel to Syria and Iraq", says The Hague police chief Paul van Musscher.

Their fanaticism has been described as sectarian, the AD writes. According to one of their victims, anyone who does not accept their word is shouted at, intimidated and threatened not only by C. and H. themselves, but also their many followers. "If they find something that you've done wrong, they will use that against you. It's like Rudolph is trying to make up for his time spent as a non-believer", the victim tells the AD.

The pair seemed able to elude prosecution for quite a while, until the police took charge this week. Capturing Abou Moussa and his wife just over the border with Germany. H. had at this point already been apprehended in his home in the Schilderswijk.