Today the Deputy National Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the Netherlands, Mrs Lidewijde Ongering testified about the experiences with home-grown terrorism during a public hearing of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The Dutch approach clearly focuses on the prevention of home-grown terrorism, instead of pointing the finger to the outside.
(…) A lack of education, huge cultural differences and difficulties in social integration were some of the most serious problems to beset this group. (…) The integration of Muslims has not been helped by the growth of Islamophobia in the Netherlands due to the many acts of jihadist violence around the world. This has led the non-Muslim population to distance itself. This, in turn, has led many Muslims to reorient themselves towards their own communities and cultural and religious backgrounds. As a result, polarisation between Muslims and non-Muslims has been on the rise for the past few years, a trend that can accelerate radicalisation processes.
Studies of radicalisation processes in the Netherlands have shown that they are often sparked by an identity crisis. These are typically young people trapped between two cultures. They don’t feel welcome as Muslims in the Netherlands, and thanks to their education and social experiences, they feel disconnected from their parents’ culture. In their search for identity, some of these young people fall into a life of crime. Others – by no means the least educated – turn to radical Islam. It offers simple answers to the big questions they are grappling with. It offers security and brotherhood and prospects of a heavenly reward. It’s possible for perfectly intelligent people to get so caught up in their fanaticism that they see martyrdom as the ultimate goal.
(…) We have developed a ‘comprehensive approach’ to the task at hand. It includes repressive measures against terrorists, but puts an equal emphasis on prevention. After all, no one is born a terrorist. People who set out to kill other people for political or religious reasons first go through a process of radicalisation. We are convinced that there are many opportunities to intervene in this initial phase.
(…) A second main way we work to prevent radicalisation is by increasing social resistance to radicalisation and terrorism, especially within the Muslim community. In the Dutch government’s view, these problems cannot be solved without the help of our country’s Muslims. They’re the ones who generally suffer most from the radicals and terrorists. They’re the ones who run the risk of losing their children to extremism. Muslims are often, wrongly, viewed as collectively responsible for the extremists’ acts. They are forced to contend with both radical Islam and Islamophobia in their daily lives. For all these reasons, Muslims are the ones who are best able to recognise and resist the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism, jihadism and terrorism at an early stage. After all, these phenomena are all present in their immediate surroundings.
Coincidently, Mrs Ongering was office manager of the high brow consultancy firm I worked for around 1990 and I plowed through some internal IT with her. A new word I learned there was to “maveren”, which is the (non existing) verb-form of the abbreviation “MAVO”, a school track for the not most intelligent kinds, meaning say things simple and clear especially when making a point to executives. The 10 page presentation seems pretty down to earth to me (not that I agree with it entirely). I bet chairman Joe (Lieberman) could understand it.