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.