THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The Netherlands’ intelligence service warned Thursday that radical Islamic ideology is spreading to thousands of young Dutch Muslims through Internet sites and online chat rooms.
The agency, known by its acronym AIVD, identified the potential threat in an overview of domestic fundamentalist Islamic movements compiled for the Home Affairs Ministry in the wake of the country’s first terrorist attack.
The publication comes nearly two months after the murder of film director Theo van Gogh, who was shot and stabbed to death on a busy Amsterdam street. A letter pinned to his chest with a knife threatened politicians and other “infidel nonbelievers.”
The 60-page report said a variety of sources of radical Islam pose a threat to the country, ranging from Salifist mosques openly preaching anti-Western, antidemocratic ideas to an underground political movement backing violent jihad, or Islamic holy war.
“Europe and the Netherlands have been confronted with extreme violence,” the report said, referring to Van Gogh’s murder Nov. 2 and the train bombings in Madrid, Spain, last March 11.
The spread of radical Web sites as an alternative to traditional outlets of Islamic teaching, such as mosques, makes it harder for authorities to isolate potential threats, the report said.
“Especially the youth have found their way to Web sites of radical Islamic spiritual leaders,” it said. “These Web sites increasingly contribute to the radicalization of Muslim communities in the Netherlands.”
The report lists 20 guidelines for reducing the threat of radicalization, such as promoting positive role models and the emancipation of Islamic women. But it warns against focusing on terrorist groups and ignoring social problems that lead some young people to militancy.
The agency also sees problems in “dawa” movements, which are not violent but promote radical Islamic ideology. Among them are al-Takfir, which seeks to convert immigrant Muslims in the West back to the fundamentalist Islam of the 7th century.
Two alleged radicals of Moroccan origin are awaiting trial as terrorists in the Netherlands. One is 26-year-old Mohammed Bouyeri, the alleged killer of Van Gogh, and 18-year-old Samir Azzouz, who is accused of plotting to blow up Dutch landmarks.
Relations between the native Dutch population and the Muslim community have been strained since Van Gogh’s murder, which prompted a wave of attacks and counterattacks on mosques and Christian churches. There are roughly 1 million Muslims in the Netherlands, around 6 percent of the population.