Young Dutch jihadists have behavioral issues, cluster in Zuid-Holland

Behavioral problems and mental health conditions may play a role in the radicalization of young Dutch jihadists, according to a report by the International Center for Counterterrorism in The Hague, which was published on Friday.

The report focused on so-called "foreign fighters" in the Syrian Civil War coming from Europe and is based on information from various sources, including municipalities, governments and intelligence services.

According to the report, it appears that "individuals with histories of behavioral problems and disorders are over-represented" in a study among 140 potential Dutch foreign fighters whose files were cross referenced with police data bases.

The report states that a total of 220 foreign fighters came from the Netherlands, of which 140 are still abroad, 42 are confirmed dead and 40 returned to the Netherlands. The majority of them are under the age of 25 and they are mostly male, though is an increasing percentage of women among the Dutch foreign fighters. The researchers attribute this mostly to the fact that all 42 Dutch jihadists killed were male.

The majority of Dutch foreign fighters come from lower or lower-middle class socio economic backgrounds and have low-to-medium levels of education. They come from both ethnically Dutch families as well as "traditional religious immigrant" families - Moroccan, Turkish, Somali, Antillean.

A significant proportion of the Dutch foreign fighters come from Zuid-Holland. "There is a notable cluster of Dutch foreign fighters stemming from The Hague, but also other towns such as Delft, Zoetermeer, Gouda and Arnhem."

Europe wide 90 to 100 percent of foreign fighters come from urban areas. According to the report, this seems to indicate that there are existing networks in such areas, that a circle of friends radicalizes and leaves together or that foreign fighters convince their friends to join them once they are already in the conflict zone.

A total of between 3,922 and 4,294 foreign fighters come from Europe, of which 14 percent are confirmed dead and 30 have returned.