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Dutch report
by Euro Reporter
2014-11-28 11:27:33
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‘Is she a victim or a suspect?’ The tale of a Dutch ‘princess’ who fell in love with jihadi ‘Robin Hood’

She was a blonde, blue eyed Catholic girl whose family was a pillar of the community in the Dutch city of Maastricht. He was a smiling, bicycle-riding Dutch former soldier – a man considered such an asset to his country that he was encouraged to try out for its elite special forces. And yet the marriage of Sterlina Petalo and Omar Yilmaz was, for their families, anything but a cause for celebration. Yilmaz, 26, was one of the most high-profile Europeans to become a jihadist, travelling to Syria to live in the self-declared Islamic State and fight on behalf of the extremists. He gloried in the teenage fantasy of war – posting a series of Instagram photographs of himself pouting at the camera on a motorcycle, amid bombed-out buildings in his combat fatigues, AK47 slung nonchalantly over his shoulder. Ms. Petalo was a recent convert to Islam, who fell in love with Yilmaz after seeing him on television, picturing him as a Robin Hood figure.

Last week their story took a remarkable twist when it was revealed that 19-year-old Ms. Petalo had returned to her home town – after her mother travelled to the Turkish-Syrian border to bring her home from the jihadist-held city of Raqqa. “Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” said her mother, Monique Verbert. “She rang me and said, ’Take me home.’ But she could not leave Raqqa without help.” The pair arrived back in Holland on Wednesday, said Annemarie Kemp, from the public prosecutor’s office. Clad in a niqqab, with only her eyes showing, the teenager – who has changed her name to Aicha – was photographed being driven through the town on her way to custody. “Upon her arrival, Aicha was detained at once on suspicion of crimes threatening state security,” said Ms. Kemp. Last night, Ms. Petalo was being held in a police cell after the prosecutor, Roger Bos, ruled on Friday that she should be detained for questioning for three more days.

Ms. Verbert, 49, an administrator for BP, argued that her daughter’s flight to Syria was little more than teenage infatuation. A court will decide whether to press charges. But the mother’s mission to bring her teenage daughter home has captivated the Dutch public and shed light on how young Europeans are being lured to join what they see as a righteous fight for Islam. The story began early this year when Ms. Petalo saw Yilmaz on television. Born in Holland, with dual Turkish nationality, he had served with the Dutch army – photographs on social media show a photogenic, chisel-jawed recruit standing tall in his beret. But about four years ago he failed to be selected for the special forces. And, with the civil war in Syria gathering pace, he grew increasingly disillusioned with the West and moved there – driven, perhaps, by his Turkish family connections. His uncle owns a shop in Turkey – which was later raided by the authorities. “It’s extremely easy to get here,” Yilmaz, who like many Dutch speaks flawless English, told Sky News in a Skype interview from Syria earlier this year. “People go on holiday, they end up in Syria.” Speaking from Idlib province in northern Syria, he described how part of his job was using his military expertise to train recruits from Britain, some of whom were teenagers as young as 16. “We see this jihad in Syria as something holy. I’m helping in my own way,” he said.


Dutch privacy watchdog to get more powers to hand out fines

The Dutch privacy watchdog CBP is to be given greater powers to hand out fines, ministers said in a briefing to MPs on Monday. Once MPs have approved the changes, the CBP will be able to fine companies which wrongly process private information, keep information longer than legally allowed and which fail to have proper security systems in place. The CBP can currently only fine government organisations and companies which don’t inform people that their personal details are being processed. The changes mean the CBP can ‘act more effectively against government bodies and companies which are careless with citizen’s private information,’ the ministers said. The maximum fine the CBP can hand out is €810,000, to companies which ‘deliberately and repeatedly’ break privacy rules.

Dutch teenager in court after Syria 'rescue'

A teenager who was brought back to the Netherlands by her mother after allegedly going to Syria to marry a fighter there has appeared in a court on terrorism charges, Dutch prosecutors have said. The 19-year-old, known only as 'Aicha,' appeared in court in Maastricht on Friday after returning to the Netherlands on Wednesday with her mother. She made a brief court appearance behind closed doors to decide if she should remain in detention, with another hearing scheduled for Monday to decide if she should be charged. A convert to Islam, Aicha had been arrested "on suspicion of crimes threatening state security". Marc Bax, a spokesman for the court, said: "Today the examining judge has reviewed the custody order of Aicha and concluded that it was lawful." Aicha's mother, Monique, is said to have rescued her from the Syrian city of Raqqa, after the teenager travelled there to marry a fighter.

Aicha reportedly fled the Netherlands in February to marry Omar Yilmaz, a Dutch-Turkish fighter who trains fighters for various groups fighting against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Yilmaz, a former soldier in the Dutch army who also did national service in Turkey, is one of a group of Dutch nationals fighting in Syria. Monique said her daughter, previously known as Sterlina before adopting an Arab name, said she saw Yilmaz as a "Robin Hood" figure. An estimated 130 Dutch nationals have left to fight in Syria, with 30 already having returned and 14 others killed in the fighting, according to the latest statistics from the Dutch intelligence services.

Edwin Bakker, Director of the Centre for Terrorism and Counter-terrorism at Leiden University in the Hauge, told Al Jazeera that the authorities were primarily interested in hearing the girl's story. "She is formerly a suspect of allegedly having joined ISIL, that has to be proven," he said. "I think authorities are primarily interested in hearing her story, who helped her get to Syria and how. "It used to be very rare until a year ago, but more and more this year girls have joined fighters in Syria. Many of them are very young."


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Emanuel Paparella2014-11-28 14:14:57
The above leads to the question: how to explain the rise of movements such as ISIL and the fanatical enthusiasm with which some young people join their cause?

The answer to that question seems complicated given that the youth in question more often than not are the sons and daughter of privilege, but in reality it is not that complex.I believe the answer is found in a book published way back in 1951 by Eric Hoffer and titled "The True Believer." Those who go around decapitating are indeed "the true believers."

Indeed Jung had it on target: throw religion out the window and it will come back the back door as a fanatical ideology.

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