Paul Belien, Brussels Journal, May 2, 2006
The Dutch secret services AIVD (state intelligence) and MIVD (military intelligence) are investigating an unknown number of Muslims within the Dutch army. Last Saturday, the Dutch newspaper Het Parool reported that a growing number of Dutch soldiers sympathizes with radical Islamists. The paper refers to the annual report of the MIVD, which states that it conducted a number of investigations into “alleged radicalisation of military personnel” as “there are signs that indicate a possible radicalisation of Muslim individuals or groups within the armed forces.”
During the past years the Dutch army, in order to contradict allegations of discrimination, has applied a policy of preferential recruitment among immigrant youths. The MIVD warns, however, that youths between 17 and 25 are more easily influenced by radical Islam, while the experience of Dutch troops in Afghanistan and Iraq can also lead to an enhanced radicalisation.
At least ten to twenty groups of Muslim terrorists are said to be active in the Netherlands, planning assassinations of politicians and the bombing of the AIVD headquarters.
General Bert Dedden, the retiring MIVD chief, said today in the newspaper De Stem that the Ministry of Defense has started procedures to oust a radical Islamist from the army. According to Dedden about ten Dutch soldiers are known to adhere to Salafism, Wahabism or other forms of extremist Islam. These people can be a danger to Dutch national security, the general explained, because they can persuade others to become disloyal to the army or because they have access to protected buildings or grounds. “We try to prevent the disappearance of sensitive information, weapons or other material,” General Dedden said.
Other European countries also have growing numbers of Muslims soldiers. Last March three conscripts of the Austrian army refused to salute the Austrian flag because they said this was incompatible with their Islamic religion. It is said that one of the reasons why the French authorities did not employ the army during the November 2005 riots, despite calls to do so, was because 15% of the French armed forces are made up of Muslims. Last month a Swiss website reported that some are concerned about the rising number of Muslim soldiers in the Swiss army. The number of Muslim citizens in Switzerland has grown from 16,000 to 310,000 during the past four decades.