Five Dutch join ISIS monthly, says counterterrorism official

An average of about five Dutch people manage to leave the Netherlands to join the battle zone in Syria and Iraq every month, despite efforts by the Dutch authorities to prevent it.

This is according to the updated threat assessment by Dick Schoof, the National Coordinator for Counter terrorism and Security, news wire ANP reports.

According to the latest threat assessment, as of August 1st a total of 210 Dutch people have left the Netherlands to become foreign rebel fighters in the Syrian civil war. Approximately 35 of them have returned and about 38 of them are believed to be dead. This means that there are about 130 foreign fighters from the Netherlands currently in Iraq and Syria.

Schoof noted that a number of Dutch people are doing promotion work in Syria and Iraq within the groups that they joined. Two in particular play an prominent role in the propaganda of terrorist organizations Islamic State and Al-Nusra. One of them, known by the battle name Abu Muhammad al-Hollandi, is believed to have been killed in Aleppo, Syria in August. He made news headlines with a video in which he urged Muslims in the Netherlands to take "a firm, strong action" against the Dutch government.

Another noteworthy threat, according to Schoof, is the group currently still in the Netherlands who want to go join the battle, but can't due to measures taken by the Dutch authorities. These people may become frustrated and act out.

While a certain potential threat can be assumed from returned jihadists, the number of Dutch returnees seem to have slowed to a stop. "In the first half of this year there were no returnees", according to Schoof. "Perhaps this is because it is difficult to get permission to leave the 'caliphate' and perhaps criminal prosecution in the Netherlands acts as a deterrent."

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