More Dutch jihadists than gov't reports: analysts

no image
No image availableNL Times

The number of Dutch jihadists is much higher than the government reports, according to ISIS expert Pieter Van Ostaeyen, former military intelligence analyst Ronald Sandee and the Dutch jihadists themselves.

The Dutch and Belgian officials are artificially keeping the official figures of people traveling to battle areas with the intention of taking part in jihadist activities low, Van Ostaeyen told De Telegraaf. The Flemish man is reportedly also knowledgeable in Arabic and Islamic studies. While Van Ostaeyen does not have any concrete evidence, he still thinks that the figures are much higher than the government suggests.

The most recent figures of Nationaal Coördinator Terrorismebestrijding en Veiligheid (NCTV) show that the amount of so-called "jihad travelers" has steadily increased during recent years, but the official count is at 169 persons. Twenty of them have died in air strikes, suicide attacks and internal violence, while a hundred of the total amount is still in Syria and Iraq. Thirty of those are women. Thirty-three people are officially known to have returned to the Netherlands.

Approximately ten Belgian and ten Dutch people leave for Syria monthly, claims Van Ostaeyen. He has received support on the issue from upfront Dutch jihadists, such as the notorious Hague radical muslim fanatic who tweets under the name of "Abe Zakaria".

"If the monthly emigration is ten people, that would mean that in 2014 alone the real number was 120. The reported number can not be true in any degree and the real amount of "jihad travelers" is from 300 up to 500 people", says Van Ostaeyen.

Ronald Sandee has a similar estimate. The "Global Jihad Analyst" in the US based consulting firm Kronos, suspects that the real quantity of Dutch fighters is around 350. "Many families do not report their kids leaving the country because they do not trust the government."

Anyone known to leave the Netherlands in support of an organization classified as a terrorist group could lose their rights to Dutch citizenship. Some jihadists threatened to attack the Netherlands if their passports are seized.