Convicted Amsterdam Jihadist escapes

The Amsterdam jihadist Omar H. seems to have escaped from the Netherlands just before he was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison. Despite security forces keeping an eye on him, he managed to flee to Iraq, where he is suspected of having joined terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS).

"The Public Prosecutor (OM) is satisfied with the sentencing for preparing a for a terrorist crime on appeal in the case against a 'traveler' to Syria. It is the first time on appeal that a judge pronounced a conviction for this relatively new law," the OM wrote on its website last week. The OM initially demanded 2 years in prison during the appeal. H. was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for preparing to participate in the international violent jihad.

But what the prosecutor did not say is that H. has not been in the Netherlands for months. According to the AD, the 23 year old from Amsterdam has been staying in the Iraqi city of Fallujah since late last year and has joined ISIS. It is highly remarkable that H. managed to get away. He was free pending his appeal, but justice and security services have considered him a great danger for some time.

Ronald Sandee, former analyst for the MIVD, now jihad specialist at the American Institute Kronos, finds it significant that H. could get away. "This is the Netherlands. Men like H. have a help system: if you ask the right friends, they can get you out of the country. It is very easy to get away. The persecution of jihadists and the imprisonment of maximum 1.5 years is a huge sham. H. will only get his punishment when he returns. But that group does not plan to come back."

Terrorism expert Edwin Bakker is not surprised that Omar H. managed to slip through the cracks. "The capacity of security services is simply limited. You may wonder how closely this guy was still being watched. Not everyone is sorry if these guys leave. The Netherlands is not safer if they stay here."