Leiden Safety and Security Blog

“Jihad-families” in Huizen: a local test case of national importance

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“Jihad-families” in Huizen: a local test case of national importance

In size it is not even one-tenth of a city like The Hague. Media headlines, however, turned Huizen, a town located between Amsterdam, Utrecht and Almere, into an alleged key centre of radical activities by labelling it “The Caliphate of ‘t Gooi”. This article describes how Huizen has become a local test case of national importance.

Why are the developments in a town like Huizen important to investigate? Last week, the government launched its action plan to combat jihadism (“Actieprogramma Integrale Aanpak Jihadisme”). This plan includes a large number of new and existing measures that aim to 1) protect the democratic constitutional state, 2) combat and weaken the jihadist movement in the Netherlands and 3) destroy the breeding grounds for radicalisation. As described by the mayor of Huizen, Fons Hertog, the measures taken last weekend were in line with this new strategy. The City Council meeting that was held on Thursday (Sep 4) in Huizen gives insight into a) how this can be implemented on a local level, b) what the remaining questions are.

The remainder of this first part offers a factual overview of the developments and measures taken by the different actors. The second part (to be published next week) will elaborate on the Council Meeting and the national impact of the case.

On Friday August 27, mayor Fons Hertog received a report from the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD), warning that there were strong signs that two families including six children were planning to travel to an area controlled by the Islamic State. After consultations with the “triangle” – which is formed by the head public prosecutor, superintendent of the regional police and the mayor himself - it was decided that the Child Care and Protection Board would visit the houses and take the children into custody. The police then arrested the four adults (on the grounds of Artcl. 134a and Artcl. 140a of the Dutch penal code).

As stated by the mayor, the persons were arrested because they supported the armed struggle of the Islamic State and had the intention to join a terrorist organisation. Another measure implemented by the mayor was the revocation of the Dutch passports as described in Art. 23a (Dutch Kingdom Act). According to the mayor, this was requested and co-decided by the Minister for Safety and Justice, Ivo Opstelten. Within a week, on September 4, the examining judge who investigated this issue demanded the release of three of the four adults because of a lack of supporting evidence.

Yesterday night (Sep 4), the mayor tried to explain to the City Council and the population of Huizen why and how these measures have been taken. It became clear from the reporting that he received a limited amount of information from, amongst others, the AIVD. This raises some important questions about the transparency of the provisioning of information and accountability of measures taken in such situations. The same applies to informing the City Council as well as the general public. As this is a very pressing and sensitive issue that also impacts local communities, this should be carefully addressed.  

Second part can be found here.

2 Comments

Jeanine
Posted on September 7, 2014 at 20:53 by Jeanine

Niels Poppe, I agree with you pointing out the different roles, so thanks for clarifying the matter. Perhaps I should have added that another investigation is indeed taking place, I’ll bring it up in the second part.

Personally, I was also very interested in seeing how the audience responded to the explanation given by the mayor (during the meeting as well as online). The mayor himself clearly (and rightly) separated roles and responsibilities, but for the people involved, he still remains the “face” of the measures taken.

Niels Poppe
Posted on September 7, 2014 at 15:24 by Niels Poppe

The importance of the matter however requires good understanding of the different roles, especially for the non-Dutch audience. The AIVD whose investigations triggered the whole incident role is to focus on potential threats to society, whereas the examining judge decisions are simply based on whether the supporting evidence is lawfully adequate and true.

Transparency in the underlying investigation cannot be given, transparency in a judges decisions on resulting prosecution is essential.

Since secret investigations that are to remain secret cannot be taken into account by a judge according to Dutch law, another investigation carried out by the prosecutor is now taking place. Awaiting that, the judge saw no reason to keep 3 of the 4 in custody. Interesting then is what motivation is given to justify imprisonment of the 4th.

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