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Dutch Intelligence Report : Islamists now pretending to be moderate

October 21, 2007

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Dutch Secret Service: Islamists pretending to be moderate

THE HAGUE, 10/10/07 - The Netherlands has entered a third phase of Islamic fundamentalism. Where radical Muslims previously wanted to subject the country to Islam in a violent manner, they are recently doing this in a much less visible way, by participating in social forums and saying they reject violence, the AIVD secret service warns.

In a report presented yesterday, the AIVD distinguishes three phases in the development of Muslim radicalism in the Netherlands and Europe. "In the first phase, which began in the middle of the 1980s and still continues, a small number of ultra-orthodox mosques and preachers from the Middle East received direct ideological, logistic and financial support from Islamic model countries. They set themselves up based on the radical Dawa: the execution of conversion activities by Islamic mission movements of ultra-orthodox and radical signature. This conversion was mainly aimed at fellow-Muslims."

"The second phase broke out after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and entered via a number of other relevant developments (the bombings in Madrid in 2003 and London in 2005 and the murder of Theo van Gogh in 2004) into an acceleration. Partly due to the dismantling of internationally operating terrorist networks after 2001, the coordinating relationship from the Islamic guide countries declined after 2001. A process of autonomisation began. (...) This phase is characterised by fragmentation, amateurism and wildfire growth of the so-called 'cut-and-paste ideology' employing selective quotes from Islamic sources."

However, since mid-2005, a third phase has emerged in the Netherlands, led by Muslims of the second generation in the West. "They have become conscious that the growth and reputation of Islam was being damaged by the low organisation level of radical Islam in Europe, the unclear ideological message and the flirtation with violence" of the second phase. "The radical Dawa preachers of the third phase who are active in the Netherlands take categorical positions against the use of violence in the West. These new preachers specifically seek target groups that they are able to reach by means of a specific message."

The AIVD warns that the "Islamic neo-radicalism", as it calls the third phase, is effective. "The other (and earlier) forms of Muslim radicalism had limited success, partly due to their often open sympathy for the violent Jihad. With Islamic neo-radicalism, it is different. Precisely because of the rejection of violence and the specific nature of the message, it reaches a much bigger target group and can even grow into a mass movement. Whether this will actually happen depends to an important degree on the resistance that the democratic rule of law poses here against it."

The government, suggests the AIVD, does not appear to realise that "the present generation of Muslim radicals, (...) despite their claim to be broadly representative, in reality form a minority movement within European Islam. (...) Moderate Muslims do not sufficiently dare, due to the intimidating approach (of leaders of the third phase), to take a position against the views and activities of Muslim radicals. As a result, they are in a poor position to limit the force of attraction of the radical Dawa among parts of their youthful generation."

In the Netherlands, either action against radical Muslims is too soft, or it is too quickly concluded that all Muslims may be radical, suggests the report. "Only a both confronting and participating approach has a chance of success. This however does not occur sufficiently because the debate on the tackling of Muslim radicalism in the Netherlands shows both strong relativist and strong absolutist characteristics."

"From a relativist perspective, it is argued that the problem of Muslim radicalisation only involves a short-lived phase in the emancipation process of Dutch Muslims," according to AIVD. Conversely, from an absolutist point of view, it is said that "Islamisation of the Netherlands will be completed within a few decades." (...) "Both pictures do violence to reality."

"A more realistic approach and the accompanying focused tackling deserves priority," the secret service recommends. "This option includes both a confrontation with the small, but influential group of instigators of Islamic neo-radicalism and an unconditional involvement with the majority of moderate Muslims."

The AIVD concludes that "due to the emergence of the third phase, not only in the Netherlands but also in several neighbouring countries, the radical Dawa has become inextricably part of the Western societies." The Muslims that lead the third phase "no longer operate from a social isolation and are not aiming at confrontation, but more at gradual and sustainable growth of radical Islam in Europe."

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