Jihadism (violent extremism)

The greatest terrorist threat to the Netherlands and many other countries is currently the threat of jihadist terrorism. Jihadism (violent extremism) is a serious threat to the national security and our democracy. The government is therefore taking measures to prevent and combat jihadism in the Netherlands.

Jihadism is an extreme political ideology marked by the desire to fulfill a divinely ordained duty to spread Islam around the world. This is to be achieved through a 'holy war' against all infidels: everything that jihadists regard as deviating from the "pure teachings" of Islam must, in their opinion, be fought by waging holy war.

Jihadism is not the Islam

Jihadists claim the Islam to impose their convictions and way of life on others through violence. The vast majority of Muslims regard terrorism as un-Islamic and object to their religion being associated in any way with terrorism. The derailed ideas of jihadists are far removed from the Islam Muslims adhere to. The government finds it important to not hold Muslims in the Netherlands responsible for the actions of jihadists.

Jihadism versus Islamism

Despite the fact that the global jihadism is often associated with the political Islam - Islamism - and in part falls back on the same resources, jihadism, in fact, has created a radical breach with Islamism. Islamic movements are often met with severe criticism from jihadists. They blame Islamists for acknowledging democratic parliamentary systems and for taking part in elections. By doing so, the Islamists are said to repudiate the divine legislation, the sharia, and commit a form of 'shirk' (idolatry). This is a mortal sin to jihadists, and a reason to oppose Islamic movements in strong formulations.

Salafism versus Jihadism

Salafism is a collective term for a wide range of fundamentalist movements within the Sunni Islam. These movements focus on moral 're-education' and 'purification' of the religious community and society. Salafism does not equal jihadism; part of the Salafist adherents, for example, condemn violence. There are, however, concerns about salafist preaching possibly becoming radicalised.

Comprehensive counterterrorism approach

The ongoing terrorist threat is complex and dynamic. This is why counterterrorism is one of the government’s top priorities. The policy memorandum on the comprehensive approach to terrorism describes how the authorities use every means at their disposal to combat and stop the spread of extremism and terrorism, from preventive measures to repressive measures, from local action to international action. We also protect society by prosecuting terrorists.

The comprehensive approach is rooted in the National Counterterrorism Strategy 2016-2020 and consists of five elements/actions: procuring information, preparing for an attack, protecting people and property, preventing attacks and pursuing terrorists. This broad combination of preventive and repressive measures has long been standard practice in the Netherlands.