The National Counterterrorism and Security Coordinator (NCTV) is concerned about the rise of the influence of the Turkish leader among Dutch people of Turkish origin. In an internal memo that HP/De Tijd has in its possession, the NCTV reported that Turkish President Erdogan is implementing a strategy of conscious Islamization in the Netherlands.
Erdogan supports Salafist organizations, sometimes jihadists, linked to Turkish-Dutch institutions and this could affect Dutch security, the service believes.
But Turkey’s Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun criticized the NCTV report, saying that it was biased and mimicked the ideology of neo-Nazis.
In the confidential memorandum, a possible link is made between “anti-Western rhetoric” of the Turkish President and the terrorist attack on a tram in Utrecht in 2019. Four people were killed in that attack. The day before this attack in Utrecht, Erdogan had mentioned the terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 49 dead. Erdogan placed it “in a context of war between Muslims and Christians,” according to the HP, citing the report.
The NCTV confirmed the existence of the memorandum to Dutch public broadcaster NOS, but did not wish to comment on its content.
The report states that the Turkish community is “vulnerable to the influence of Turkey”. Ties with Turkey are strong, and many Turkish Dutch people vote for Erdogan in Turkish elections. They are also associated with foundations which are in contact with the Turkish government.
The Turkish-Dutch youth organizations in particular are said to be affected by the fundamentalist movement of Islam. The memorandum warned against radicalization, also online.
From various walks of life, there have been criticisms against the “factually incorrect analyzes” or at least some improbabilities contained in the report. For example, the Utrecht tram attacker has been associated with statements made by Erdogan in the NCTV report. However, Gökmen T. is a supporter of the extremist cleric Metin Kaplan, who is pursuing an Islamic caliphate. His movement and Erdogan’s AKP are at odds. The attacker had called Erdogan “an American dog”.
The fact that the report pointed out that Erdogan has been allowing the spread of Salafi organizations, has been debated. The Salafists are rivals of the Muslim Brotherhood and it is precisely this movement which is supported by Turkey. Although they are both conservative Islamic movements, there are important ideological differences between the Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Turkey and Qatar are important pillars of the Muslim Brotherhood, while Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States support the Salafist movements. Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been rivals for years vying for influence in the Middle East.
The memorandum is not yet “analytically mature”, Dutch Justice and Security Minister Grapperhaus complained. This means, among other things, that the security services AIVD and MIVD and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Social Affairs and Employment have yet to give their opinion on this subject. These services are currently reviewing the report. The NCTV then decides whether the report still needs to be amended and published or whether it remains confidential.
The substantive analysis of the report is included in an overview of security threats that is published three times a year, said the NCTV. The service expects the next version of it to be released in late March, early April.
Dutch PVV leader Geert Wilders has meanwhile called the Turkish leader a “terrorist” in a tweet. Wilders urged Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to “show courage” to oppose the Turkish president, expel the Turkish ambassador and expel Turkey from NATO. Wilders shared a drawing of Erdogan with the ISIS terrorist flag in the background.
Erdogan supporters soon fired back: They denounced Wilders as a pig and a devil and said he was racist. “Erdogan is democratically elected by the Turkish people and is the leader who fights the terrorist organization DAESH the most in Syria,” one Turkish supporter said, adding that Wilders was the “real terrorist”.
The report underscored that Turkish citizens in the Netherlands were likely to be manipulated by Erdogan, because he wanted to become the leader of Sunni Muslims around the world.
Turkey’s presidential spokesperson also slammed Wilders, calling the Dutch politician an “imbecile” while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spokesperson Ömer Çelik said Wilders was a “cursed Nazi”.
“If he lived in the Middle East now, he would have been a Daesh murderer, but because he lives in the Netherlands today, he has become an ugly anti-humanity fascist,” Çelik said, adding that Wilders would kill innocent migrants if he had the chance to do so.
“It is only natural for this fascist to attack our president, who has embraced migrants fleeing death,” Çelik concluded, claiming that Wilders was the enemy of “humanitarian values”.
Turkey’s chief public prosecutor’s office issued a statement announcing a probe against Wilders for “including a photograph and written insult about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Feb. 15”.