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Dutch Muslims recruited by militants, investigators say

Dutch Muslims recruited by militants, investigators say

Author: Marlise Simons, New York Times
Publication: The Mercury News
Date: May 31, 2002
URL: http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/news/world/3371899.htm

A network of Islamist militants has been recruiting young Muslim immigrants at mosques in the Netherlands, urging them to join the ``holy war'' in places like Afghanistan or Kashmir, the Dutch Internal Security Agency reported this week.

The agency is also investigating reports that groups with links to Al- Qaida have instructed their Dutch Muslim followers that they should join the Dutch army to get military training.

But Sybrand van Hulst, the director of the Dutch Internal Security Agency, said at a news conference that there was no evidence that the recruiters themselves were from Al-Qaida. Rather, he said, they were apparently from the Algerian-based Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat and other groups from the Middle East.

As evidence of ongoing recruitment, the agency disclosed that two Dutch-born sons of Moroccan parents were found dead in January in Kashmir, where they had apparently joined Muslim rebels fighting against India. The agency said the two men -- Ahmed el-Bakiouli, 20, and Khalid el-Hassnaoui, 21 -- had been killed by Indian security forces who told the Dutch that the men were suicide fighters who had tried to kill Indian border guards.

The men, both high school graduates but not soldiers, were the first Dutch Muslims known to be involved directly with Islamist fighters.

In recent weeks, the Dutch police have also arrested as many as 10 young men suspected of links with armed militants, but they were foreign nationals who had been in the country only briefly.

The disclosures come at a time of growing public concern in the Netherlands about the recent large influx of Muslim immigrants, who make up close to 6 percent of the population. Most are from Morocco, Turkey and Suriname, countries where Islam is largely moderate.

The disclosures also coincide with government concern about the activities of conservative teachers at Islamic schools. The government says these schools receive funds from foreign Muslim foundations, in particular from Saudi Arabia.

In recent months, the government has stepped up its surveillance of religious and political groups in schools and mosques, a government official said. Some of the Islamic schools are teaching anti-Western attitudes, the official said. Also, they are reportedly teaching that Muslims should battle non-Muslims until they acknowledge that Allah is the only God.

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