A 19 year old woman suspected of recruiting individuals to fight in Syria has been arrested in the Netherlands. Police arrested the woman in the city of Zoetermeer, and she is to be remanded for two weeks while an investigation is underway.
Oum Usama is a Dutch national of Somali origin. The arrest appears to be in part precipitated by complaints of several parents of Dutch Muslims who have traveled to Syria. The complaints name those who are allegedly enlisting fighters, whom AD alleges hold ideological motivations. The woman remains in custody and has not commented through a lawyer, and the Public Prosecutor declines to offer further information regarding the charges or alleged recruitment activities.
Oum Usama’s arrest led to protest online and small demonstrations outside of Dutch embassies in the UK and Germany. The website “True Religion” published a letter warning of potential consequences for the arrest. It remains unclear who is behind the campaign. The National Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the Netherlands says that it remains aware of the situation but as yet sees no reason to take action.
There is growing concern in the Netherlands about Dutch Muslims being enlisted to fight in Syria. A study by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London stated that at least 107 Dutch nationals were fighting in Syria. Public prosecutors have said that while authorities cannot stop would be fighters from leaving the country, they can combat recruitment, which is against the law and carries a sentence of up to four years in jail or a fine of 78,000 Euros.
Amsterdam lawyer Bart Nooitgedagt says such cases are difficult to prove and there have been no successful prosecutions of Muslims on recruitment charges to date.