Islamic school in Amsterdam in contact with terrorist group: Counterterrorism coordinator

High school classroom
High school classroom. (Photo: HaMinh1997 / Wikimedia Commons)

Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security, intelligence service AIVD and national coordinator for counterterrorism and security NCTV have major concerns about Islamic school Cornelius Haga Lyceum in Amsterdam. In a letter to parliament and Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema, they wrote that there are indications that the board of the school has been in contact with a terrorist group for years, RTL Nieus reports.

The board of the school has been in a Salafist and radical environment since 2000, the NCTV said. According to the letter, it is known that the board had contact with terrorist group Caucasus Emirate for at least three years. This group is responsible for multiple attacks on the Moscow metro in 2010, among other things, according to the broadcaster.

In addition to contact with the terrorist group, there are more "worrying signals" at the school, according to the letter. "These signals include that leading people within the school would like to devote half of the school year to Salafist scholarship and plan to take pupils under their sphere of influence outside the regular teaching periods", Minister Grapperhaus said in the letter. 'Key figures' in the school also act contrary to the government's anti-radicalization strategy.

Mayor Halsema calls the signals from the school "very worrisome". Intervention is "necessary and inevitable" because the young pupils at the school are structurally influenced, she said. Halsema therefore demands that the school's board resign immediately. If that does not happen, the municipality will withdraw its subsidy to the school and will not take the school's request for new accommodation under consideration.

The municipality will send all parents and pupils of the school a letter to inform them of the situation and measures taken. The letter will also advise parents to choose a different school for their children. This same advice will go out to new pupils who want to attend this school. The registration procedure for the new school year closes next week.

Halsema stressed that there is no acute danger to public order.

The in Amsterdam is a small school that opened about a year and a half ago, according to RTL. The school has 174 pupils and offers MAVO, HAVO and VWO .Boys and girls attend lessons separately. 

The school's opening was controversial, partly because a former board member had expressed sympathy for terrorist organization Islamic State. The municipality was against the opening of the school. "The school board stands with its back to society", the then education alderman Simone Kukenheim said at the time, according to the broadcaster. Then State Secretary of Education Sander Dekker also did not want the school to open. He did not trust the school board and feared that students would turn away from Dutch society. But the Council of State ruled that he still had to finance the school.

The Education Inspectorate launched an investigation into the school in October last year. During an inspection, as part of its investigation, at least one religious lesson was deliberately canceled, RTL writes. The investigation is still ongoing. The results are expected in June. 

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