Dutch Muslims recruited for `holy war,' agency says

Militant groups enlisting young men at mosques

May 31, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

PARIS - A network of Islamic 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 said in a report 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 in order to get military training.

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

As evidence of the 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 two men, both high school graduates but not soldiers, were the first Dutch Muslims known to be involved directly with Islamic fighters.

In recent weeks, the Dutch police have 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 of them are from Morocco, Turkey and Suriname - countries where Islam is largely moderate.

The disclosures also coincide with government concern about the activities of fundamentalist teachers at Islamic schools, which officials have said 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, for instance that Muslims should battle people until they believed that Allah is the only God.

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