​Radicalized Dutch better die fighting with ISIS than come back – PM’s party

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (Reuters / Olivia Harris)
It would be better for radicalized Dutch nationals fighting alongside ISIS to die in Syria rather than for them to return home and carry out attacks, believes the Dutch PM. His party agreed, suggesting that their death is preferable.

Mark Rutte , the Prime Minister of the Netherlands and leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) expressed his point of view during pre-election debates on television.

“People who go there know what they are part of,” Rutte said, when asked whether he agreed it would be preferable that radicalized Dutch nationals die in Syria rather than return home. “The only aim is to kill as many people as possible. Those people will soon be back to carry out attacks here as well. As prime minister, I am here to protect our people.”

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The statement caused harsh criticism from representatives of all other parties. The leader of social-liberal opposition party Democrats 66, Alexander Pechtold said this position seemed populist as it was very emotional.

“I think as prime minister you should put the rule of law first, but you are saying “go and die in the desert rather than face your responsibilities in court,” Pechtold said, adding such a statement is “unworthy" of a PM.

But the members of the ruling party not just supported the idea but went even further. The spokesperson for the VVD Laura Huisman said on Friday it would be even better if jihadists were killed by the Dutch government than allowed to come back, the Newsweek reports.

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“I must acknowledge Mr Pechtold’s ardent support for the Netherlands’ participation in the combat against ISIL’s barbarians,” she said as cited by the Newsweek. “The logical consequence of which is that terrorists, some of them undoubtedly Dutch, do get in the way of our lethal weapons."

"That’s much to be preferred than their returning as hardened, bloodthirsty, gun-toting terrorists, longing to kill as many Dutchmen as possible. The Netherlands is a safer and better place without them,” she added.

Despite the criticism the prime minister said most people would agree with his position.

About 160 Dutchmen joined the Islamic militants over last two years, a last year report by the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism department said. According to the report, about 100 jihadists of Dutch origin still take part in military operations in the Middle East at the moment.

In February the Dutch government approved a package of measures, including an increase in funds of €128.8 million, to improve the capabilities of the Dutch security services so that they could combat terrorism and the jihadist threat in the long term. As the jihadist threat is expected to be present for a long time, the services are to focus on the growing number of people returning from conflict zones and extra efforts to prevent and combat radicalization.