When Muslim terrorists return to the West from Syria … 1

Chances are there will be an increase of Islamic terrorist atrocities in Western countries when (if ever) the war inside Syria is over.

This is from an article by Soeren Kern at Gatestone:

More than 100 Dutch Muslims travelled to Syria in 2013 with the intention of taking part in jihadist activities there, and at least 20 battle-hardened jihadists have since returned to the Netherlands, posing a significant threat to national security, according to a new report published by the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD. …

The principal concern in this year’s report is the mounting threats posed by the returning jihadists … 

The report warns that the presence of European fighters in Syria provides the jihadist groups active there with an “excellent opportunity to recruit individuals familiar with our region to commit acts of terrorism here”.

In addition, returnees could “exploit their status as veterans to radicalize others in the Netherlands”.

AIVD says the age of Dutch jihadists is decreasing constantly and the number of women in this group is growing.

Most of the fighters are of Moroccan descent, although some are from Bosnia, Somalia and Turkey. Many of the Dutch jihadists are second-generation immigrants who were born in the Netherlands. …

The vast majority of Dutch jihadists in Syria have joined one of two rebel groups, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] or Jabhat al-Nusra [JaN]. AIVD believes that at least ten individuals from the Netherlands were killed in 2013, including two Dutch jihadists who blew themselves up in suicide attacks …

The report says that Al-Qaeda’s involvement in the Syrian conflict makes the threat far more acute. AIVD warns:

[Al-Qaeda] still has every intention of carrying out attacks in the West, and the use of fighters from Europe could make that goal easier to achieve. It is conceivable that some will return home with an order to commit or facilitate such acts. There is also a risk that these fighters will form new networks in Europe

The presence of jihadist fighters from Europe in the ranks of groups affiliated or associated with Al-Qaeda, such as ISIL and JaN, offers it a chance to deploy battle-hardened operatives in countries like the Netherlands as well as in Syria. Most hold a European passport and have their origins in our region, making them unlikely to attract much attention once they return and so ideal to carry out or facilitate assignments on behalf of the organization.

As well as potentially posing a direct threat, returnees from Syria might also have a radicalizing and mobilizing effect upon fellow Muslims … “that could strengthen local radical groups and spread their message to a wider audience.”

The report also focuses on a new, more activist form of radical Islam that has emerged across Europe over the past several years, spearheaded by groups such as Sharia4Holland, Islam4UK, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Millatu Ibrahim and others.

AIVD says these groups “provide an environment in which ideas about violence and jihad are allowed to develop; their supporters make no secret of their sympathy for Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and have become more and more open in their expression of a jihadist ideology.”

Many of the young Muslims attracted to the Syrian conflict come from one of these activist groups. As such, they have crossed the line from rhetoric to action. Effectively, the organizations have thus become actual jihadist networks with their core members fighting in Syria and, at home, a wider group of supporters engaged in ever more fervent propaganda. Social media are used to disseminate stories about ‘brothers’ on the front line in Al Sham (Syria) and the deaths of their “martyrs”.

… The interior ministry has employed various measures to confront the jihadist threat. For example, it revoked the passports of 11 would-be jihadists in 2013 to prevent them from traveling to Syria. … The government has prohibited returning jihadists from collecting social welfare benefits, and in some instances it has frozen their bank accounts. At least four radicalized youth are currently under the supervision of the juvenile delinquency system.

AVID has also heightened surveillance of recruitment networks. … [and] efforts have also been made on a judicial level to criminalize so-called “jihad travel.” … [But] the light sentences handed down by the court are unlikely to serve as a meaningful deterrent to future would-be jihadists.

Once again, critics say, the ideology of multiculturalism has trumped justice.

There is a similar danger of trained, fanatical Muslim terrorists returning to organize and incite “radical action” in many Western countries, including the United States.

According to the New York Times (which tries not to associate the words “Islam” or “Muslims” with terrorism, but sometimes can’t avoid it):

Dozens of Americans have traveled or tried to travel to Syria to fight with the rebels against the government of President Bashar al-Assad since 2011 … 

The Americans are a small subset of the mostly radicalized young Muslims with Western passports who are entering Syria from Europe, North America and Australia, a group that numbers roughly 600, according to the officials and classified estimates from Western spy agencies. That represents a fraction of the roughly 6,000 to 11,000 foreign fighters over all who have poured into Syria by way of the Middle East and North Africa. 

The Americans’ numbers are small — intelligence officials would not be more precise than saying “dozens” were involved — and they have so far not distinguished themselves on the battlefield. … 

The influx of young Muslims with Western passports into Syria has raised fears among American and European intelligence officials of a new terrorist threat when the fighters return home.

In Syria, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS] has emerged as the leader in attracting foreign fighters as it exploits the chaos of the civil war and tries to lay the groundwork for an Islamic state. The group has repeatedly clashed with other rebel brigades, including another group aligned with Al Qaeda, the Nusra Front. …

In addition to these two Islamic extremist groups, the American officials said “migrant brigades”, which do not have the strict vetting requirements of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or Nusra to weed out Western spies, are also proliferating.

Among the best known of these emerging units is Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, a group that actively recruits armed followers from Central Asia and Europe …

While the [US] intelligence officials said there had not yet been any confirmed cases of foreign fighters carrying out attacks in their home countries upon their return — most of those suspected militants are still in Syria — it is the militants from groups like Jaish, they say, that pose the greatest threat when they come home.

  • liz

    Great. As if we don’t have enough of these wackos already.