Report: Concerns mount as pro-jihadist movement grows in Utrecht
The pro-jihadist movement in the Netherlands seems to be moving from The Hague to the Utrecht region. Recent confidential information from the national police indicates that the Utrecht region is becoming a "jihadist hotspot", according to Dutch newspaper AD.
According to the newspaper. experts were informed about the situation during a confidential briefing at the Hague police last week Friday. A presentation in the briefing revealed that 51 people with radical and extremist ideals are living in the Utrecht region, out of a total 435 throughout the Netherlands.
Edwin Bakker, professor of terrorism attached to the Hague Center for Terrorism and Counterterrorism confirms this phenomenon. "I understand from the police, judiciary and municipalities involved that the jihadist movement is moving towards Utrecht. That's because the scene in The Hague for a large part no longer exists. Those people are in prison, in Syria, they are dead or being watched by the intelligence services.", he said to the newspaper.
Bakker added that the move makes sense - "These people still need a place to come together." - but he finds the developments worrying. "For these municipalities, this issue is relatively new", he said, adding that the jihad-movement can benefit from that.
A spokesperson for the municipality of Utrecht told the newspaper that they are remaining alert. "We do this by connecting communities in the city and to more easily share information, concern and opportunities. This allows for rapid intervention."