Dutch court convicts 6 for recruiting ISIS jihadists

2015-12-10 18:37
People arrive at the courthouse in Amsterdam ahead of the verdict of eight men and one woman charged with recruiting youngsters to join ISIS. (Alexander Schippers, AFP)

People arrive at the courthouse in Amsterdam ahead of the verdict of eight men and one woman charged with recruiting youngsters to join ISIS. (Alexander Schippers, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Amsterdam - A Dutch court on Thursday convicted six men of belonging to a network recruiting young Muslims to join the Islamic State jihadist group, handing them jail terms of up to six years.

Three other defendants received lesser sentences for other terror-related charges including a woman, who was jailed for seven days for posting a message on social media deemed as incitement.

"The criminal organisation aimed to incite and recruit 'brothers' to travel to fight in Syria and financed them to that end," Judge Rene Elkerbout said at a heavily-fortified courthouse on the outskirts of Amsterdam.

The complex 190-page verdict was handed down in a landmark case that experts say tested the boundaries of religious freedom and freedom of expression in the Netherlands, known for its tolerant values.

Eight men and one woman initially faced several charges including "belonging to a terrorist organisation", incitement to commit acts of terror, recruiting youngsters to join ISIS and undergoing military training in Syria.

The recruitment process took place through a "constant process of ideological ripening" which the judge said targeted vulnerable and impressionable youngsters, particularly in Schilderswijk, a poor, working-class neighbourhood of The Hague's inner city.

The suspects were arrested last year in a massive police probe into jihadist activities in Schilderswijk, once a traditional Dutch working class area, now inhabited by second and third-generation immigrants mainly of Moroccan and Turkish descent.

Public prosecutors said the group "formed a criminal and terror organisation."

Lawyers to appeal

"They all had different roles and eventually contributed to the aims of the organisation," prosecutors said in a statement.

A three-judge bench agreed and sentenced the main defendant Azzedine Choukoud, 33 - whom they referred to as "the driving force" behind the group - to six years in jail.

Two other men, aged 24 and 26, were tried and sentenced in absentia to six years in jail. Both are believed to be fighting in Syria.

Three others who formed part of the network were sent to prison for between five and three years, including Oussama Chanou, 19, whom prosecutors said was the group's "spiritual leader" and Rudolph Holierhoek, 25, dubbed the network's "media man."

Choukoud's lawyer Andre Seebregts denounced the sentences after the hearing as "very, very high".

"This is round one, there is a good chance that we will... appeal this," he told reporters outside the courtroom.

The judges said the network relied heavily on social media to find recruits, with one Facebook page containing at least 97 messages which constituted "incitement to travel and fight in Syria, including encouraging Dutch jihadists to fight in the armed struggle."

- 'A test case' -

Mostly from Schilderswijk, the suspects maintained their innocence, claiming religious freedom and freedom of opinion allowed them to put out messages in support of IS.

The case comes two years after concerned parents in Schilderswijk filed missing persons reports with police, triggering the biggest Dutch probe to date into radical Islamist activities.

At the time, many of the accused were involved in pro-IS protest marches in the neighbourhood and also posting messages of support on Facebook and Twitter.

A spokesman for the public prosecutor's office, Wouter Bos, expressed satisfaction with the sentences, saying it would would serve as a deterrent for other groups planning to recruit youngsters to jihadist activities.

"This is a test case, which will set a precedent for the future," Bos said.

At least 220 Dutch citizens have left the Netherlands for Syria and Iraq to join fighters there, according to the Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV).

About 40 have since come home, while another 42 are believed to have been killed in the fighting.



Read more on:    isis  |  netherlands

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.