The Hague hotbed of jihadisPOSTED: 04/4/16 2:36 PM
THE HAGUE – Approximately 30 percent of those Europeans who left for Syria and Iraq as foreign fighters have returned to their home countries, according to a new report by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague. The study is based on a variety of sources, including information provided directly to ICCT by ministries, intelligence services and other government agencies from 23 EU states.
The report says almost 600 European jihadis have died in Syria and Iraq, or around 14 percent of the total 3,900 to 4,300. Almost 90 percent come from residential areas in bigger cities. ‘This seems to indicate that there are already existing (extremist) networks in these areas, that a circle of friends radicalizes as a group and decides to leave together or recruits those friends remaining at home while already in conflict zones,’ the report says.
In the Netherlands, ‘there is a notable cluster of Dutch foreign fighters stemming from The Hague, but also other towns, such as Delft, Zoetermeer, Gouda and Arnhem,’ the report said. The majority of Dutch jihadis have lower or lower middle class socio economic backgrounds, low to medium levels of education and limited chances on the labor market, the report said. Many have also been exposed to crime and drug abuse.