Tackling radical Islam demands broad-based approach

Countering the threat from radical Islam requires the broad-based deployment of all administrative agencies at international, national as well as local level. They must use all available means for this, from encouraging moderate forces up to and including applying criminal sanctions if the law is broken. This is stated by the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Johan Remkes, in a letter to the Lower House in which he presents a report by the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) on the threat posed by radical Islam to democracy (Van dawa tot jihad, de diverse dreigingen van de radicale islam tegen de democratische rechtsorde (‘From dawa to jihad; the various threats posed by radical Islam to the democratic rule of law')). According to the Minister the prevention, isolation or curbing of radicalisation is an important means of sustainably fighting terrorism.

The AIVD report reveals that radical Islam is made up of a plethora of schools, movements and groupings covering the whole spectrum from 'jihad' (in the sense of armed struggle) against the West to ‘dawa’ (proselytising radical Islamic ideology). The report also highlights the fact that the more dawa-oriented forms of radical Islam can pose a threat to the democratic rule of law. This diversity means that every form of radical Islam requires a separate counter-strategy. The report contains building blocks for all agencies involved to help them design such counter-strategies geared to the particular situation.

The report does not look at the specific threat posed by radical Islamic groups or networks. According to Mr Remkes, it is a conceptual contribution both to research on radical Islam and to the development and implementation of a broad counter-strategy. The report outlines eight forms of radical Islam, each differing in the way in which they embrace or reject violence as a means of achieving their aims. The degree to which they work in the open or in secret also makes a difference. Some groupings are moreover committed to the complete overthrow of the Western democratic constitutional state, while others are concerned with creating a completely different kind of society. These latter groups go much further and are much more intolerant: not only must there be changes; every aspect of life and interpersonal relations in society must be structured on the basis of sharia law. The groups espousing this aim are described in the AIVD report under the label ‘radical Islamic puritanism’. The dawa activities of these groups, in particular, are currently contributing to the radicalisation of some young Muslims in the Netherlands by preaching that Western society is a state of moral decay and poses a threat to 'pure' Islam.

Mr Remkes has also sent the AIVD report as a policy-support document to local mayors, the Queen's Commissioners, police chiefs and the National Anti-Terrorism Coordinator.