Criminal defense lawyers are using a Dutch aid program for Syrian combat groups to get Dutch jihadists returning from Syria acquitted, according to Nieuwsuur and Trouw. The so-called NLA program is playing an important role in at least six criminal cases, the news agencies report after speaking to lawyers representing returned foreign rebel fighters in the Syrian civil war.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs accidentally released the name of two groups in Syria that received non-lethal aid from the Netherlands, after previously declaring these names state secret for security reasons. The names were unveiled in approximately 2 thousand pages of documents that were released at the request of Nieuwsuur and Trouw.
The non-lethal aid the Netherlands provided to various armed rebel groups in the Syrian Civil War "could have gone better", Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs said in a parliamentary debate about the NLA program on Tuesday. However, he does not think it went "unreasonably wrong", and he rejected the suggestion that the Netherlands gave large-scale support to terrorist groups that violated human rights, NU.nl reports.
The Dutch government did not ask its External Public Law Adviser for advice about providing support to Syrian opposition groups. According to the adviser in question, professor André Nollkaemper, the support offered to Syrian rebel groups may be "in conflict with the prohibition on non-intervention", Nieuwsuur and Trouw report.
The government will immediately launch an investigation into the NLA program, in which the Netherlands offered "non lethal support" to the moderate armed opposition in Syria, Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs said. He called it "worrying" that the Public Prosecutor labeled at least one group that received Dutch support as terrorist, AD reports.
The Dutch government supported Jabhat al-Shamiya, an armed group in Syria that the Public Prosecutor labeled terrorist, according to research by Nieuwsuur and Trouw. A Dutch man is currently being prosecuted for participating in this group. The indictment states that Jabhat al-Shamiya is "salafist and jihadist", "strives for the establishment of a caliphate", and "can't be otherwise qualified" than as a "criminal organization with terrorist intent", Nieuwsuur reports.