Dutch municipalities monitoring 160 radicalized Muslims; 59 in Amsterdam

Dutch municipalities, the police and security services are currently actively monitoring at least 160 radicalized Muslims. Amsterdam accounts for the biggest share of that number, with 59 radicalized people currently under the municipality's eye, the Volkskrant reports.

The Volkskrant spoke to 25 municipalities who are receiving money from the Ministry of Justice and Security for the so-called PGA program - the person-oriented approach to the prevention of radicalization and extremism. In the usual approach to this program the police, intelligence services, municipal authorities and health authorities like the rehabilitation services and youth care work together to monitor radicalized Muslims. The measures used in the program vary from a community police officer visiting a person of concern to compulsory guidance to work and education. In some cases the judiciary can also impose restraining orders.

The actual number of radicalized persons being monitored by the authorities is likely higher, as only nine of the 25 municipalities were willing to reveal numbers to the newspaper.  Amsterdam is keeping an eye on 59 radicalized Muslims, The Hague "a few dozen", Arnhem 20, and Rotterdam 38. Early this month mayor Ahmed Marcouch of Arnhem said his municipality is keeping an eye on a group of 25 radicalized Muslims. 

The Ministry spent 6 million euros annually on the PGA program since 2015. The lion's share of that amount goes to the municipalities of The Hague, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Delft, Arnhem and Gouda. According to the newspaper, these municipalities generally count as the areas where most foreign rebel fighters in the Syrian civil war come from. 

The PGA program received a lot of praise over the past two weeks following the arrest of seven men suspected of planning a terrorist attack in the Netherlands. These suspects form part of the group of radicalized persons Arnhem is monitoring. According to Marcouch, 34-year-old Hardi N., believed to be the center of this group, and two Amsterdam residents could be arrested because the municipality promptly conveyed concerns about their behavior and contacts to the intelligence services.