Van der Laan's "secret" anti-radicalization plan never implemented: Amsterdam municipality

Eberhard van der Laan
Mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan

Amsterdam, and former mayor Eberhard van der Laan, never implemented a secret anti-radicalization campaign, deputy mayor Eric van der Burg wrote in a letter to the city council. "It was investigated whether an eventual campaign could contribute to counter radicalization", he wrote. But the campaign was eventually rejected and never implemented, he emphasized, AT5 reports.

On Sunday Elsevier reported that Mayor Van der Laan launched his own anti-radicalization project, without telling the city council and his aldermen about it. The so-called Gray Campaign involved YouTube videos in which a Moroccan-Dutch Amsterdam resident tells of his problems, without making clear that the video was related in any way to the municipality. The intent was to keep young people away from radicalization in this way.

"Early January 2017 some concept videos were shown to the mayor. He expressed his displeasure about the videos and said he could not agree with them", Van der Burg wrote to the city council. He did, however, confirm, that only a handful of people knew about the potential campaign. "Because no proposal was approved by the mayor, the proposal never formally had a status, it was not considered in the triangle [of police, prosecutor and municipality], not discussed in the college of Mayor and aldermen, and the municipal council was therefore also not informed."

The videos were never put online, and there is no intention to do so. "At the time, the mayor also had doubts about whether an anonymous campaign would be wise, even when it came to combating a serious problem like radicalization and preventing a terrorist attack", Van der Burg wrote, according to the broadcaster. The deputy mayor clarified: the campaign was considered, but the mayor stopped the project before it was implemented. This was done on, among other things, the advice of the police and Public Prosecutor, who agreed that it should be clear where the videos came from.

"The college rejects the image created in some media that the mayor secretly conducted a campaign and deliberately did not inform the college and city council about it", Van der Burg said in the letter.

Van der Burg also denied Elsevier's suggestions that city official Saadia A.-T. was dismissed because she had to pay for the failed campaign. "The dismissal of the official referred to in the report, is not based on the 'gray campaign' but on a conflict of interests", he wrote. She also submitted invoices that did not on "size and moment of submission" match the "size and moment of work performed".